Helping a loved one who is experiencing a severe mental illness, especially someone who may not realize they are sick, is one of the greatest gifts you can give. For some, it may mean the difference between life and tragedy. ~ Treatment Advocacy Center
(WASHINGTON, DC) — House Energy & Commerce Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (PA-18) released the following statement regarding President Obama’s State of the Union address.
“As the President asks where we can make progress together, I can think of no better or important place to start than helping families in a mental health crisis. This is a critical healthcare need facing our nation that transcends traditional political boundaries, with overwhelming recognition that our current system is failing families and patients in need.
Specifically, I welcome him to join my efforts in advancing the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act so we can address this national emergency and rebuild the nation’s broken mental health system. The mentally ill are not separated by party label: both Republicans and Democrats universally agree on the need to reform mental healthcare. The current system is a national shame and yet there was not a single reference to it by the President tonight. By ignoring what is in the minds and focusing on what is in the hands of those who commit violent acts, the President has tragically missed the point.
The problems plaguing the mental health system, and the lack of investments and reforms we have made on behalf of the millions suffering in silence, is a national embarrassment. We’ve pushed well-meaning parents out of emergency rooms, traded hospital beds for jail cells, and allowed our streets and alleyways to become the last refuge for the seriously mentally ill. It is unethical. It is immoral.
The mentally ill are no more dangerous than anyone else, but for a certain population with untreated schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, there is an increased risk of violent behavior, resulting in 38,000 annual victims of suicide, an estimated 1,500 homicides, and countless assaults. These individuals deserve our compassion, our attention, and medical help, which is why I introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717).
Tomorrow, when the President comes to Pittsburgh, I urge him to take a short detour to the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) of UPMC, the nation’s leading mental health research hospital where employees know all too well the jarring consequences of untreated illness. There, the President can listen to the physicians, the parents, and the patients who have faced the barriers, the stigma, and the flaws in the mental health system. From there, the President should visit the new BRAIN Institute at the University of Pittsburgh where the country’s top scientists are working to chart the path to better treatment and recovery.
We are at the forefront of research, care, and treatment. Let's not squander the moment. Instead of the trite grip-and-greets, let's have these words followed by meaningful action. Otherwise, words are just empty gestures of delay and ambivalence.
Now is the time to address the problems of untreated mental illness directly. Since launching my Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee review of the mental health system in January 2013, I’ve repeatedly reached out to the White House to formally engage on this issue. I once again invite the President to work with me and give hope to the millions of families teetering on the verge of tragedy because of the broken mental health system.”
Karen Easter, Mental Health Advocate for Assisted Outpatient Treatment