GAO report out on mental health HHS leadership, and it ain't pretty

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Well, so much for a restful weekend. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), released a stunning new report yesterday from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office entitled, “Mental Health: HHS Leadership Needed to Coordinate Federal Efforts Related to Serious Mental Illness.”

Here is an excerpt from the Energy & Commerce Committee press release:

  • The government watchdog’s report highlights that, despite over 100 distinct programs across eight federal agencies identified and billions of dollars committed annually to them, the federal mental health system has serious shortfalls in getting individuals with serious mental illness much needed treatments. The report reads, “Although SAMHSA is charged with promoting coordination across the federal government regarding mental illness, its efforts to lead coordination – specifically on serious mental illness – across agencies have been lacking.”

    The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on Wednesday, February 11 at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building to review the report. The hearing is entitled, “Federal Efforts on Mental Health: Why Greater HHS Leadership is Needed.”

    In its review, GAO “identified 112 federal programs that generally supported individuals with serious mental illness in fiscal year 2013. The majority of these programs addressed broad issues, such as homelessness, that can include individuals with serious mental illness. The programs were spread across eight federal agencies … Agencies had difficulty identifying all programs supporting individuals with serious mental illness because they did not always track whether or not such individuals were among those served by the program. Agencies also varied in which programs they identified because they had different definitions of what such a program might be. Such inconsistency limits the potential comparability across programs.”

    “This GAO report is a much-needed wake-up call. The federal government’s approach to addressing mental illness is a convoluted and disjointed mess. Shame on us if we don’t take action and work on fixing the system-wide failures identified in this report so that we can focus resources on helping those in desperate need of medical services for treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and chronic depression,” said Murphy.
     

Since I will be reading this report over the weekend, you might as well too. The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on Wednesday, February 11 at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building to review the report. The hearing is entitled, “Federal Efforts on Mental Health: Why Greater HHS Leadership is Needed.”

Looks like I'm gonna be gassin' up the truck for yet another trip to DC...

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scott

Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO
Children's Mental Health Network  

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