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.

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