A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill on Feb. 7 on Capitol that would strengthen America’s community mental health and addictions system, The Washington Post reports.
The Excellence in Mental Health Act will give Americans living with mental illnesses and addictions greater access to the services and treatments needed to keep them healthy and safe in their communities.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), one of the legislation’s main sponsors, said too many people receive inadequate or no treatment and are at risk of their problems becoming more serious.
“Behavioral health has long been left out of the federal dictionary,” Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, said in a news release. “As a result, mental health and addiction providers cannot receive the critical federal funds that support other safety net providers. They share the unique responsibilities of the safety-net — but none of the supports.”
Rosenberg added that in the over three decades she’s worked in behavioral health, she had seen so many people in ERs with mental illnesses and addictions that it interferes with the ERs ability to serve their primary function. The new legislation would help these people get the proper assistance they need to once again function responsibly in the community.
Mental health advocates like the National Alliance on Mental Illness have been pleased with the announcement, saying they would support the legislation 100 percent.