Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Murphy’s "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis" Bill Passes House!!!!

* * * BREAKING * * *
Murphy’s Crisis Mental Health Bill Passes House 
Near Unanimous Vote in favor of H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act
For Immediate Release: July 6, 2016
Murphy Press 202.225.2301
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Congressman Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) passed the House on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016.
“This historic vote closes a tragic chapter in our nation’s treatment of serious mental illness and welcomes a new dawn of help and hope,” said Congressman Murphy. “We are ending the era of stigma. Mental illness is no longer a joke, considered a moral defect and a reason to throw people in jail. No longer will we discharge the mentally ill out of the emergency room to the family and say ‘Good luck, take care of your loved one, we’ve done all the law will allow.’ Today the House voted to deliver treatment before tragedy.”
Considered the most comprehensive reform of the mental health system in the past half century, the bill earned 207 bipartisan cosponsors in advance of the historic vote on the House Floor and garnered endorsements from news outlets, mental health advocates, physicians and families of individuals with mental illness from across the country. 
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act focuses resources where they are most needed to foster evidence-based care, fix the shortage of psychiatric hospital beds, empower caregivers under HIPAA privacy laws to allow for compassionate communication, bring accountability to mental health spending and help patients get treatment well before their illness spirals into crisis.
In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Congressman Murphy led the multi-year effort to reform the nation’s failing mental health care system. The Energy and Commerce Committee took the historic step last month by passing Congressman Murphy's legislation by a unanimous vote of 53-0 and set the stage for the vote today on the floor to overhaul the failed system for the first time in more than half a century. 
“To every family member, the tens of thousands who reached out to me, who stepped forward to share their story and be a voice for change, my deepest gratitude for your courageous stand to help families in mental health crisis,” said Murphy. 
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 2646 passed with a near unanimous vote of 422-2. The overwhelming vote in the House is expected to break the logjam on considering mental health reform legislation in the Senate. Murphy pledged to continue working the bill all the way to the President’s desk for signature.


The House of Representatives today passed the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646) by an overwhelming majority (422-2).

Celebrate today as we make history.
Tomorrow we get back to work.

Today's vote sends a clear message to the Senate: our treatment system is broken and unacceptable. To change the status quo, they too must take action.

Preventable Tragedies Occur within Families, too. This time in Tennessee.

michelle-owens (June 30, 2016) A severely mentally ill Alabama woman was taken by Tennessee police to a psychiatric hospital for treatment after she was arrested in the state earlier this month. But, after a too-short stay, she was released from the hospital without follow-up care. Now, a few weeks later, she faces charges in the fatal shooting of her husband (“Tennessee sheriff: Decatur slaying suspect taken for psychiatric treatment earlier this month,” Decatur Daily, June 29).MIchelle Owens, 44, was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric unit after a Tennessee police officer attempted to pull her over for speeding and she fled the scene.
“She just took off, and they ended up using a spike strip to stop her,” Trousdale County Sheriff Ray Russell said. “We knew something was going on with her and she needed help.”
Owens was charged with misdemeanor evading arrest by motor vehicle and issued a speeding citation, but the charges were dropped after she was released from the hospital just a couple days later.
“The judge and the district attorney agreed to that because it was obvious something was going on with her,” Sheriff Russell said. “We just wanted to know she was getting help, and her husband was there to make sure she was OK.”
Family members reveal Owens had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her 17-year-old son became concerned and called 911 after discovering she had recently purchased a pistol and had been actting erratically.
Police responded Sunday afternoon to Owens’ home and found her husband, Lawrence “Eddie” Owens, 44, dead with a gunshot wound to the head.
To recap, Michelle Owens—a severely ill women in the midst of an acute psychiatric crisis—was released from a psychiatric hospital after a couple of days because police and medical staff believed that “she was getting help and her husband was there to make sure she was OK.”
But who was there to make sure Owens’ husband was OK?
Psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are vastly overrepresented among family homicides, according to a new Treatment Advocacy Center study on the topic.
In nearly 30 percent of all family homicides the offender was reported to have a severe psychiatric disease, and failure to take medication prescribed for serious mental illness was a major risk factor for committing a family homicide, the study reported.
"It's insanity to close down psychiatric facilities and make treatment in the community almost impossible to access, leaving family members with the impossible task of picking up the pieces," said E. Fuller Torrey, lead author of the study and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center. "These sorts of tragedies are the logical result."
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

BREAKING: Energy & Commerce Unanimously Passes H.R. 2646 !!!!

BREAKING: Energy & Commerce Unanimously Passes H.R. 2646
Murphy's Landmark Legislation Moves to the House Floor
For Immediate Release: June 15, 2016
Murphy Press 202.225.2301
(Washington, DC) - By a unanimous vote of 53-0 Congressman Tim Murphy's (R-PA) landmark crisis mental health legislation the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, the House Energy & Commerce Committee reported the  bill out favorable to the House. Considered the most comprehensive reform of mental health in the past half century, the bill currently boasts 197 bipartisan cosponsors and has garnered endorsements across the country from newspaper editors, physicians and families of individuals with mental illness. 
“Here and now this Committee jointly proclaims that the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness must come out of the shadows. We declare a new dawn of hope for the care of those with mental illness and we pledge our unwavering commitment to continued work to bring help and hope in the future,” stated Chairman Murphy. 
Watch Murphy deliver his powerful and emotional statement here.
“Today’s vote on passage of H.R. 2646 and reporting the bill out of Committee is a historic moment for families in mental health crisis and for the millions of Americans trapped in our nation’s broken mental health system,” said Murphy. “Delivering evidence-based treatment is how we will finally conquer stigma surrounding mental illness, and this bipartisan bill transforms the federal government’s approach to mental health. This bill calls for a complete overhaul of the current federal system, refocusing resources on helping those with the most serious mental illnesses by getting them treatment before, during and after a psychiatric crisis. I couldn’t be prouder of the work of the bipartisan coalition in Congress, and I eagerly look forward to the bill’s consideration on the House Floor.”
Watch Video of Congressman Murphy delivering his remarks Here
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TODAY - The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act Takes a Major Step Forward

WASHINGTON, DC - For families exhausted from battling a broken mental health system, finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), has scheduled a full committee markup this morning to consider HR 2646, the landmark mental health reform legislation introduced last year by Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). 

The Treatment Advocacy Center has been closely monitoring the negotiation process and we are pleased that despite the many competing interests, the bill hasn't lost its focus on severe mental illness. 

Among the most important reforms we expect to see:
Funding AOT: Authorizes an additional two years of funding for the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) federal grant program to catalyze communities to implement this lifesaving, evidence-based treatment program;
VOICE YOUR SUPPORT. Tell members of the Energy and Commerce Committee that we MUST keep the focus on people with severe mental illness.
All donations are fully tax-deductible.  The Treatment Advocacy Center does not solicit nor accept support from pharmaceutical companies. 
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tennessee needs AOT now more than ever!

Ironically as we received the news yesterday that the state was not funding Knoxville's Safety Center, SAMHSA announced that the first-ever federal assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) funding is operational and taking grant applications -$15 MILLION AVAILABLE in federal funds to states with AOT laws! 

BUT ... Tennessee is not eligible since we remain as one of only 4 states in our nation without AOT laws on our books. 

It is unfortunate that Knoxville could not make its 3 year AOT pilot program work. The proposed Safety Center would be an ideal location to file petitions to stop the revolving door stemming from untreated serious mental illness. 

We can still get some of this funding - if TN ever passes AOT. 

Spread the word. 

Tennessee needs AOT more than ever. 

Read the news release here: NO STATE MONEY FOR SAFETY CENTER

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


In today’s Wall Street Journal:Lawmakers need to act

For Immediate Release: 3.30.16
 Murphy Press 202.225.2301
(Washington DC) – In today’s Wall Street Journal, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey of the Stanley Medical Research Institute presses Congress to stop stalling and take up Congressman Tim Murphy's (R-PA) landmark mental health legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646). Calling it "the only proposal that would be likely to affect the actual treatment" of the severely mentally ill, Dr. Torrey puts forth: “One might think that members of Congress would be interested in passing legislation that could decrease threats to themselves. But that assumes they are thinking logically.”   
A Wake-Up Call for Congress on Mental-Health Reform The incident at the Capitol involving a clearly troubled man is the latest reminder:  
Lawmakers need to act
E. Fuller Torrey
March 29, 2016
Another shooting at the U.S. Capitol. This time, in an incident on Monday, 66-year-old Larry Dawson, a Tennessee man known to U.S. Capitol Police for his erratic behavior, was shot and wounded by a police officer when he pulled out what sources later said was a pistol-like pellet gun.
What is going on? One possible answer was offered earlier this month by 30-year-old Kyle Odom, who was arrested March 8 after throwing a letter to President Obama over the White House fence. The letter warned the president that there are at least 50 members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, who are Martians. Then, in a 21-page manifesto released to the media, Mr. Odom provided the names of these congressional Martians and described how they live “deep underground here and inside the moon.” Law-enforcement officials say that two days before the White House incident, Mr. Odom shot and critically wounded an Idaho minister, believing that the clergyman also was a Martian.
Kyle Odom had not always believed in extraterrestrials. He served four years as a decorated Marine, graduated from the University of Idaho with honors, and was accepted into a prestigious Ph.D. program in genetics. Then he developed delusions and auditory hallucinations, classic symptoms of schizophrenia. Like many with this disease, though, he apparently has had no awareness of his own illness.
Mr. Odom joins a long line of individuals with untreated mental illness who have come to the attention of Congress. In 1998 Russell Weston, with untreated schizophrenia, shot his way into the Capitol building, killing two guards before finally being stopped as he entered the office of then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay. In response, Congress vowed to do something about untreated mental illness but did nothing. 
In 2011 Jared Loughnerwith untreated schizophrenia, severely wounded then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., and killed six others. In response, Congress vowed to do something but did nothing. Then in 2013 Miriam Carey, seriously mentally ill, was killed by U.S. Capitol Police on the Capitol grounds, causing a lockdown of the building. During these same years there have been at least 20 widely publicized mass shootings by individuals with serious mental illness that was not being treated.
Mr. Odom’s arrival in Washington with his list of Martian members of Congress has come at a time when there are multiple legislative proposals, in both the House and Senate, to improve the nation’s broken mental-illness treatment system. The strongest bill is from Rep. Tim Murphy (R., Pa.), the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), which has 135 Republican and 51 Democratic co-sponsors. It is the only proposal that would be likely to affect the actual treatment of Kyle Odom, Miriam Carey, Jared Loughner, Russell Weston and other individuals with untreated serious mental illness who, because of the effect of the disease on their brain, are unaware of their own illness and need for treatment.
Kyle Odom said it best at the beginning of his manifesto: “As you can see, I’m pretty smart. I’m also 100 percent sane, 0 percent crazy.” The provision in Rep. Murphy’s bill, which would make treatment possible, is called assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) and requires the individual to follow a court-ordered treatment plan. In study after study, AOT has been shown to significantly reduce hospitalization, incarcerations and violent acts among individuals with serious mental illness. 
A study by New York state found that, after the first six months of court-ordered treatment, “individuals in AOT showed a significant decline [44%] in the incidence of harmful behaviors,” such as threatening suicide or violence to others.
One might think that members of Congress would be interested in passing legislation that could decrease threats to themselves. But that assumes they are thinking logically. As columnist Kimberley Strassel has reported for this newspaper, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and her cohorts have been holding up Rep. Murphy’s proposed legislation, preferring a victory against gun lobbyists over helping those with severe mental illnesses. Other impediments have been thrown up by Reps. Fred Upton (R., Mich.) and Frank Pallone (D., N.J.), the chairman and ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. 
There may not be any Martians in Congress, despite Kyle Odom’s claims, but if lawmakers continue to thwart this common-sense reform of mental-health policy, voters could begin to suspect that Mrs. Pelosi and her colleagues live on another planet.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016


Senate HELP proposal ignores the most severely ill, perpetuates broken system
Meanwhile, Idaho Shooting Suspect and White House Intruder Has History of Mental Illness

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) on Tuesday made public a draft mental health bill that eliminates every substantive provision to help people with severe mental illness.

At nearly the same time, Kyle Odom, a 30-year-old veteran with a reported history of mental illness was arrested after throwing objects over the White House fence. Odom is suspected in the shooting of a pastor in Idaho two days earlier, according to media accounts.

"Odom -- a man tortured by a history of suicide attempts, paranoia, voices and hallucinations --- identified 50 members of Congress as dangerous Martians and was arrested for attempting to fulfill part of his manifesto on the White House lawn," said John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. "What more needs to happen for our policymakers to take our failing mental health system seriously and change the status quo?"
"Families watching their loved ones deteriorate into a psychiatric crisis need Congress to embrace proven solutions and real reform," the executive continued. "Instead, the Senate HELP Committee proposal ignores the momentum that has been built around fixing the broken system, and disregards every major change to help the most severely ill outlined by Representatives Tim Murphy and Eddie Bernice Johnson in their Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act - a bill with the bipartisan support of 185 Representatives."
The Treatment Advocacy Center urges lawmakers in the Senate to include in the bill the five following provisions to help reduce the tremendous social costs associated with our broken mental health system.
Real reform must include:
1. Reform of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA);

2. Reform of the discriminatory IMD exclusion to ensure more psychiatric inpatient beds;

3. Reform of HIPAA provisions that unnecessarily prevent communication with caregivers;

4. Support for assisted outpatient treatment, a proven solution to help those most in need; 

5. Real oversight of Protection and Advocacy programs.

Call HELP committee leadership today:
  1. Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) -- (202) 224-4944
  2. Ranking member Sen Patty Murray (D-WA) -- (202) 224-2621
Is your Senator on HELP?  Check here.
Call your Senator TODAY and tell them to make severe mental illness a priority.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


News and Commentary from the Treatment Advocacy Center
February 1 - February 5, 2016
"Grandmother Turns Grief over Death of Grandson into Good" 

The grandmother of 3-year-old Ji'Aire Lee - who was found dead on a playground swing after his mentally ill mother had pushed his lifeless body for nearly two days - visited the Maryland House of Delegates early this week to talk to state lawmakers about mental health reform legislation named after her deceased grandson. The bill is meant to identify cracks in the mental health system that allowed Ji'Aire to die and changes necessary to help people with serious mental illness. READ IT ALL...
"Lives Hang in Balance While Committee Democrats Delay Comprehensive Mental Health Reform"
A group of House Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats this week introduced the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Reform and Recovery Act - their own watered-down version of the bipartisan comprehensive mental health reform already moving through the House. "Playing partisan political games with mental health reform is an insult to people with severe mental illness trapped in our broken mental health system," said John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. "How long do the families of those with a severe mental illness need to wait before Congress finally takes mental health reform seriously?" READ IT ALL...
In the second half of 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two new antipsychotic medications for oral use in the United States - brexpiprazola (trade name: Rexulti) and cariprazine (trade name: Vraylar).  But these new antipsychotics add little to augment the choice of antipsychotics already available. READ IT ALL...

No mentally ill inmate will be placed in solitary confinement for more than thirty days, according to a settlement between the American Civil Liberties Union, Indiana Protection & Advocacy Services and Department of Corrections. As awareness and outrage about the criminalization of mental illness across the country continues to grow across, we expect to see a wave of states settle similar lawsuits in the future. READ IT ALL...
If you have a letter or commentary published, please email a link or a copy to so we can save it, acknowledge your reform efforts and share it with others.