Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act moves to the House floor
A bill designed to pad all sides of a severe mental health crisis, for an individual and his or her loved ones, has been approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee just this week.
H.R. 2646, proffered up by Reps. Tim Murphy and Eddie Bernice Johnson will now go before the House floor. It’s designed to give proactive and holistic attention to mentally ill people who experience psychotic episodes.
- Related article: Helping Families in Mental Health Care Crisis Act 2015
Critics maintain the language of the bill stereotypes those with a mental disorder as violent. Proponents point out the legislation is tailored to envelop the most severe mentally ill people with preemptive assistance and thereby reduce the generalization linking cognitive breaks with the nation’s recurring violence.
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act offers:
- More acute police training on evidence-based best practices for crisis response
- The introduction of mental health courts, similar to drug courts, to avoid incarcerating the extremely mentally ill
- HIPAA augmentations. According to MentalIllnessPolicy.org, the changes will clarify that caregivers can give information about patients to doctors. They can also give information to parents if the information is needed to protect a patient’s “health safety and welfare”
- Improvements to Assisted Outpatient Treatment, which permits courts to mandate medicated and supervisory residential treatment for patients who don’t recognize the need for treatment
- Increased Medicaid funding for inpatient hospital beds in state psychiatric facilities or hospital wards
HR 2646: 4 percent of the 4 percent
“Families of the 4 percent” is a title given by Congress denoting families suffering from severe mental illness that often includes psychosis,” the Huffington Post explains. It adds although many crimes are ascribed to the psychotic, only around 4 percent of all violent crimes are committed by a person with a mental illness.
- Related story: “The need for mental health training among law enforcement“
Although opponents critique the bill as further stigmatizing, bill authors affirm the bill is to help loved ones of those extremely mentally ill or untreated Anosognosiacs – who don’t know or refuse to believe they’re ill.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness supports HR 2646 and its authors “for their significant efforts to craft a bipartisan bill that will improve mental health care in our country by refocusing programs, improving grants and removing federal barriers to care,” said NAMI Chief Executive Officer Mary Giliberti.
A small step forward, or backward?
A PsychCentral article provides another perspective to the bill.
“The majority of the Murphy Bill’s supporters are middle class parents with a single child who has mental illness. From my vantage point, I don’t see poor people actively campaigning for this. I’m not hearing stories about families with generations of people with mental illness campaigning for this. (Remember, mental illness has a strong genetic link – mentally ill parents often have mentally ill children.) I’m not seeing the minority community come out in support of this bill. And there are almost no mentally ill people in recovery campaigning for this.”
However, families of minorities snubbed by bureaucracy into silent despair after losing a loved one in the tangle of red tape and discouraging psychiatric evaluation wait lists – like the loved ones of Jonte ‘Rock Steady’ Willis – might disagree.
A strategic increase in funding and physical in-patient beds would accommodate acute mental health care by leaps and bounds. Consider Iowa, where an estimated 4 percent of citizens experience severe mental illness. Iowa is the second-worst state in the country for mental health accommodations, with just 64 state mental hospital beds.
Iowa’s NAMI Executive Director Peggy Huppert said, “We think private beds can certainly meet the needs if they are there and if the money is there.”
If HR 2646 passes the House and Senate, the money may be on its way.
The Sovereign Health Group will continue to follow this developing story. We keep readers abreast on the latest in health-related legislation and clinical news. Call our 24/7 helpline to learn about how Sovereign customizes mental health and addiction treatment.
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