U.S. House Approves Mental Health Measure

By National Psychologist Staff
October 17, 2016 - Last updated: October 16, 2016

H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act 422-2 The U.S. House passed H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act 422-2 in July and forwarded it for Senate consideration.

Lead sponsors of the measure are Reps. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., a clinical psychologist, and Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas.

Susan H. McDaniel, Ph.D., president of the American Psychological Association (APA), called the passage “a major success,” adding, “The legislation advances vital reforms to federal mental health policy to increase access to effective and evidence-based care, particularly for those with serious mental illness.”

An APA press release noted that the association has worked four years to pass mental health legislation to provide essential prevention services, treatment for populations in need and support for education and training.

H.R. 2646 reauthorizes community mental health block grants, the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative and other early childhood interventions. It also calls for increased Medicaid access to mental health services and would create a national suicide prevention lifeline program, increase funding for the Minority Fellowship Program and a workforce program to train health service psychologists to work in community mental health settings and establish grants for developing statewide child tele-health care access programs.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also lauded the passage, calling it “a major step forward toward mental health care reform.”

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions earlier unanimously passed a similar bill that awaits a full floor vote. If that bill passes the Senate, the two houses will work to iron out differences for an agreed on bill to be forwarded to the president to be signed into law.

Consideration by the full Senate has not been scheduled and probably will not come before the November elections.

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