Yesterday, Jaime Herrera Beutler joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, a significant reform to the U.S. mental health system. Jaime is a co-sponsor of the legislative solution that would improve this nation’s often-fragmented mental healthcare system and remove federal barriers to care. It passed by a bipartisan 422-2 margin.
“Everyone has been touched by challenges with mental illness in some way, whether personally or via a family member or friend, and those experiences have made us all painfully aware of the shortcomings in our mental health system,” said Jaime. “Right now, too many people with mental illness are on the streets or in jails instead of getting the care they need that would keep both them and our communities more safe. I’m proud to be a long-time champion of this solution that makes the most significant reforms to our mental health system in decades to help meet the needs of individuals in Southwest Washington and across the country.”
The bill aims to address some of the most glaring mental health gaps in the U.S. Nearly 10 million Americans who have serious mental illness including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression go undiagnosed or without treatment. There is a shortage of nearly 100,000 psychiatric beds nationwide. Three of the largest mental health “hospitals” are actually jails (L.A. County, Cook County, Rikers Island Jail). There is only one child psychiatrist available for every 2,000 children with a mental health disorder.
This bill makes reforms across the entire mental health system, including:
• Breaking down barriers that would allow patients on Medicaid suffering a mental health crisis access same-day care;
• Reauthorizing the national suicide prevention lifeline program;
• Authorizing crisis intervention training grants for police officers and first responders;
• Extending liability protections for Mental Health professionals that volunteer at community health centers;
• Authorizing grants for workforce development, including behavioral health paraprofessional training and education programs, and grants to increase the psychologist workforce