Mental health reform debate heats up in October!

September 25, 2015

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:

  • Rep. Tim Murphy, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mary Giliberti, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness, John Snook, Executive Director, Treatment Advocacy Center, Fred Osher, M.D., Director of Health Systems and Services Policy, Council of State Governments Justice Center, Kathleen Nolan, Director of State and Policy Programs, National Association of Medicaid Directors, and Renée Binder, M.D., President, American Psychiatric Association.

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!

  • Hey, organizers, there is still time. Let us know if you want some recommendations for incorporating young adult voice into the mix. After all, much of your conversation will be focused on this population. We are happy to help!

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

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