Post by DJ Jaffe on Pete Early website
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR2646) was passed by the Health Subcommittee last week. (Unamended version here) But sitting in the room watching, was like attending two separate plays going on simultaneously. One play, about substantive ways to help the most seriously mentally ill was put on by Republicans. Democrats put on the other play. It demonstrated how little they know about serious mental illness and how far they had been misled by the mental health industry. It pains me to say that because I am a Democrat.
The Substance of the Bill
Historically, mental health bills in Congress have thrown money at politically correct, feel-good programs that let mental health industry engage in easy and palatable tasks like “reducing stigma,” “education” or “improving mental health,” but rarely deliver actual treatment to adults with serious mental illness. HR2646 has provisions to improve mental health, but it also has five provisions that start to focus government programs on delivering treatment to adults with serious mental illness. And that makes it important and different. If families of the most seriously ill continue to speak-out, this could be the beginning of a shift towards helping seriously ill adults after decades of shunning them. The support for the shift is coming primarily from Republicans who want to reduce crime, incarceration and tragedies. Democrats tend to avoid those issues for fear of causing stigma. They have been taught to ignore unpleasant truths like not everyone recovers, sometimes hospitals are needed, some seriously ill need the help of families, and yes, left untreated, those with serious mental illness are more violent than others. Following is a preliminary analysis of how the five most important provisions came out of the markup, followed by a discussion of what went on at the hearing.