Key House Committee Approves Mental Health First Aid Act
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved its version of the Mental Health First Aid Act (H.R. 1877). This legislation authorizes grants for mental health and substance use awareness training to law enforcement, first responders, teachers, and other individuals that work with youth.
The National Council has long supported the Mental Health First Aid Act, and commends the Energy and Commerce Committee for its action on this important bill. Mental Health First Aid is vital for giving people the tools to respond to common crisis situations as Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council, explains in her blog on Huffington Post, “When someone you know is hearing voices that aren’t there, or drowning in grief from the death of a child, or experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress from the loss of his fellow soldiers, you need to know how to help them in the heat of a crisis moment.”
We thank Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) for their tireless support of the Mental Health First Aid Act. Our appreciation also goes out to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), for their work to bring this bill before the committee.
The committee’s action came on the heels of news that Rhode Island enacted legislation to train its entire police force in Mental Health First Aid. The committee-approved bill would permit federal funds to be used for training police officers, among other law enforcement officials. Current program rules limit funding to training individuals who serve youth.
With few days remaining in the legislative year, the future of the Mental Health First Aid Act is uncertain. The National Council continues to work with Members of Congress to build support for this legislation. Stay tuned to Capitol Connector for the latest updates and opportunities to take action.