Cassidy, Murphy’s mental health legislation applauded

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on Wednesday entitled “Improving the Federal Response to Challenges in Mental Health Care in America” that included discussion of U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) Mental Health Reform Act.

The legislation aims to provide critical reforms meant to address a lack of resources while enhancing coordination and developing meaningful solutions to improve outcomes for families dealing with mental illness.

“As a doctor and as a person, I know people in my life who are affected by mental illness,” Cassidy said when he introduced the legislation in August. “We all do — we all have seen the homeless veteran who needs and deserves care, or the person we went to high school with who is missing the reunion because they are struggling with serious mental illness. Many have their first episode of major mental illness between the ages of 15 and 25, starting down a path that ends with their life and their family’s lives being tragically altered.

“This bill attempts to identify these young people and stop that path from ever opening up and preventing the first episode of serious mental illness, or, once identified, to begin a new path, a better path, a path towards wellness. This is about making those individuals, their families and society, who are threatened with serious mental illness, whole.”

The Mental Health Reform Act would designate an assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, integrate physical and mental health, establish new grant programs for early intervention, reauthorize successful research and grant programs, and improve mental health services within Medicare and Medicaid.

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