With half of Americans with mental health conditions going without essential services and supports—and others getting only minimal care—reform of our nation’s mental health system is a priority issue for NAMI.
Fortunately, there is unprecedented agreement in the U.S. House and Senate on the need for mental health reform.
What’s happening in Congress now?
The House passed H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act, Nov. 30, 2016. This bill includes provisions from the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 (H.R. 2646) and from the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680). It also contains language from S. 2002, the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act of 2015 and from S. 993, the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, promoting de-escalation training and diverting people with mental illness to treatment instead of incarceration.
Mental health reform legislation (H.R. 2646) passed the House in July of this year, but the Senate’s bill (S. 2680) had stalled. In recent weeks, the House and Senate negotiated compromise language on mental health and criminal justice reform that was incorporated into H.R. 34. Because of this, the Senate is expected to vote on the new language with little or no changes before the end of the year.
The 21st Century Cures Act, while sparking some controversy, includes elements that NAMI strongly supports, including the following:
- It authorizes $1.6 billion for the Brain Research Through Advancing Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, an effort to understand brain conditions, and $1.6 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, and
- Requires the FDA to include patient experience in regulatory decisions.
What Is NAMI Doing?
NAMI advocates have sent over 150,000 emails, 230,000 petition signatures, and thousands of tweets and phone calls to Congress asking them to pass mental health reform now. These efforts, along with Congressional meetings, have helped lead to unprecedented bipartisan agreement.
You can help too.