Mental health reform debate heats up in October!

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Oh my, the next few weeks are going to be interesting for supporters and detractors of the various mental health reform bills floating around in the halls of the House and Senate. As faithful readers know, the Network welcomes opinions on all sides of the mental health reform debate, and we have been blessed to have blog post contributions from a diverse group of thought leaders. Only on these pages will you read opinion pieces from the likes of Liza Long, Dennis Embry, Lisa Lambert, Leah Harris, Dottie Pacharis, Will Hall, and so many more. It is our continual bounty of diverse opinion that is one of the things I love so much about the Children’s Mental Health Network. Never a dull moment around here!

Time to crank up the mental health reform dialogue
We are approaching the month of October; recess is over, and the Pope has completed his visit to Washington, DC. Heck, if we avoid a government shutdown, maybe we can roll our sleeves up and get busy with pending mental health legislation. In fact, mental health advocates on both sides of the mental health reform debate are picking up the pace, beginning with two important events taking place on October 7th.

Mental Health Reform: Improving Access to Care & Reducing Incarceration
If you find yourself in favor of the Murphy bill and want to hear from both Representative Murphy and Senator Murphy (who is pursuing a similar bill in the Senate), there is an event taking place in Washington, DC that will interest you. On Wednesday, October 7, 2015, from 8:30 – 10:30 AM Eastern Time, The National Journal and Janssen Pharmaceuticals are sponsoring an event in Washington, DC on mental health reform. The event, Mental Health Reform: Improving Access to Care & Reducing Incarceration will include a number of speakers, including:

That is quite a lineup, boding well for a robust discussion, to say the least. Unfortunately, there is no consumer or young adult voice on the panel. Ouch!

Day of Action for REAL Change in Mental Health Policy
Also on Wednesday, October 7th, the Campaign for Real Change is initiating a “Day of Action for REAL Change in Mental Health Policy.” The Campaign for REAL Change in Mental Health Policy was initiated in opposition to The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), introduced by Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA). Here is how they describe themselves on their website: “We are a diverse group of professionals, psychiatric survivors, researchers, policymakers, citizens, family members, and people in recovery who don’t necessarily agree on all points, but who are united in our effort to stop the Murphy bill. We are also united in the belief that we can do better than what this bill proposes.”

For the October 7th event, the Campaign is encouraging people to call, write, or use social media to contact their members of Congress and tell them that the Murphy Bill is bad for America. Their Twitter campaign is: Tell The National Journal “Nothing About Us, Without Us!” #RealMHChange

The Campaign website includes resources individuals can use to help with their advocacy efforts. Regardless of where you land on the Murphy bill, if you are an advocate in search of resources, check out their landing page for the Day of Action.

Bottom line for Network faithful
Same as always – Do your homework and try to listen, even when it hurts. Stay focused on the end goal – improving the lives of individuals and families in ways that support and strengthen a community-based approach to helping each other be as successful as possible.

Whew! I told you it was gonna get busy!

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


  1. Scott Bryant-Comstock's avatar
    Scott Bryant-Comstock
    | Permalink
    Kimberley - Yes, we can help identify families as well as young adults who would love to be a part of this discussion. Let's hope the organizers ask! All voices are important, most especially the voices of families carrying a heavy load and young adults who have had their lives impacted by serious mental illness.
  2. Kimberly Blaker's avatar
    Kimberly Blaker
    | Permalink
    While someone has complained there is no consumer voice on the panel, there is no consumer's family voice on the panel either. The families of the seriously mentally ill (SMI) are so overburdened from the daily stress and work involved in caring for someone with untreated or inadequately treated SMI, they have no time or energy left to dedicate to advocating for the reforms necessary to get their sick loved ones the treatment they need. It is unfortunate that the mental health consumers who are less ill (well enough to make an informed decision about their own treatment) are quite happy to leave those who are more severely ill without the treatment they need by opposing HR2646, the helping families in mental health crisis. It is sad that even those with some form of mental illness could care less about those who are the most severely affected by such brain diseases as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar and who lack insight into their disease. HR2646 with all of its provisions is the most crucial piece of legislation for getting and keeping those who are the sickest off the streets, out of jails, and keeping them alive, by providing treatment for recovery.
  3. Shelly Peterson's avatar
    Shelly Peterson
    | Permalink
    "That is quite a lineup, boding well for a robust discussion, to say the least. Unfortunately, there is no consumer or young adult voice on the panel. Ouch!"

    Yes, ouch! The vast majority of folks we are advocating for are in prison, homeless or dead. Or like my daughter, just very sick. She's doing very well thanks to many years of involuntary treatment and her dad and I taking care of her. As well as she is doing though, she is unable to handle the stress of a trip to WA or having the spotlight on her at this level of advocacy.
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