Mental Health Reform

Passing comprehensive mental health reform is a high priority for NAMI. NAMI is working with partner organizations and with our friends and members across the country to urge members of Congress to pass S. 2680 and H.R. 2646.

The facts make one thing clear: mental illness is a major public health crisis in the U.S. today. However, changes to our mental health system can help address this crisis.

What Is Congress Doing?

Two major pieces of legislation have been introduced in Congress to comprehensively improve the mental health system that are currently being considered. Representatives Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) have introduced H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 and and Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have introduced S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016.

The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680) and the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (HR 2646) will:

  • Enhance enforcement of the Mental Health Parity Law.
  • Improve integration and program coordination across federal agencies that serve people living with mental illness.
  • Improve integration of mental healthcare and physical health care in Medicaid.
  • Promote early intervention in the treatment of psychosis and use of evidence-based interventions.
  • Emphasize outcome measures and data collection.
  • Provide resources for suicide prevention.

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 will also:

  • Improve the use of health information technology in mental health care.
  • Remove the 190-day lifetime limit on inpatient psychiatric treatment in Medicare.

Both bills will improve our nation’s mental health system by realigning federal policy and funding to better support effective treatment for mental health and substance use conditions. 

In addition to multiple provisions that are widely applauded, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 includes issues that provoke discussion and even disagreement among mental health advocates and organizations, including:

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and access to information for caregivers
  • The role of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • The role of the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System
  • The role of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT)
  • The Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion

Want more information on comprehensive mental health reform? Here is a closer look at the details of the mental health bills and where they currently stand.

What Is NAMI Doing?

Passing comprehensive mental health reform is a high priority for NAMI. NAMI is working with partner organizations and with our friends and members across the country to urge members of Congress to pass S. 2680 and H.R. 2646.

NAMI advocates have sent more than 80,000 emails sent in support of mental health reform legislation emails and had more than 60,000 signatures on a petition that was delivered to Congress in support of mental health reform legislation.

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