This month we celebrate our nation’s independence. But, did you know that nearly 20% of our population is struggling with their individual freedom from mental illness?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (43.8 million) experience mental illness in a given yearref. Despite the impact it has on our country, the topic has often been ignored or brushed aside. That is until events over the last several years have put mental illness in the spotlight.
Turn on any evening news program (or just scroll through your Facebook or Twitter Newsfeed) and you’ll see the controversy swirling around mental health. From gun control and terrorism to hate crimes, mental illness has become a mainstream conversation. Finally.
The importance of mental health has even caught up to the federal government (again). There’s been some “across-the-aisle” collaboration in the House of Representatives in the form of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2464).
Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, who sponsored the bill (also known as the Murphy Bill), outlined how he hopes H.R. 2646 will help fix the nation’s broken mental health system. Here are a few goals of the bill:
- Empower parents and caregivers: Break down barriers for families to work with doctors and mental health professionals and be meaningful partners in the front line care delivery team
- Drive evidence-based care: Creates an Assistant Sec. for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders…to elevate the importance of mental health
- Drive innovation: Drive innovative models of care, develop evidence-based and peer-review standards for grant programs
- Improve transition of care: Require psychiatric hospitals to establish clear and effective discharge planning to ensure a timely and smooth transition from hospital to appropriate post-hospital care and services.
- Alternates to Institutionalization: Incentivize states to provide community-based alternatives to institutionalization for those with serious mental illness, such as Assisted Outpatient Treatment and other assertive-care community approaches
Of course H.R. 2646 is more extensive than this. (You can read Murphy’s full memo here or the actual bill here). But it passed out of the House of Representatives on July 6th with an impressive 422-2 vote. It goes up to Senate for next consideration.
While this month gives us a reason to celebrate our country’s independence – it’s also a great time to reflect on the work that’s still ahead of us to provide some freedom to those who struggle with mental health challenges. This bill, current events and increasing news coverage is making it possible to openly discuss mental health issues without fault. It’s certainly worth our efforts to #JoinTheConversation.