Mental health advocates oppose Rep. Tim Murphy's Bill for promoting forced "treatment" over more effective and less expensive voluntary care

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WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire

On June 4, Congressman Tim Murphy introduced legislation (HR 2646) designed to dismantle the federal mental health authority – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – which has successfully promoted recovery and community inclusion for individuals with serious behavioral health conditions for 25 years, as called for by President Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. The bill would replace SAMHSA with a new Office headed by a politically appointed government official, controlled by Congress and robbing people of their civil rights through forced treatment and increased institutionalization.

The bill, a revised version of The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 3717), which failed to pass in 2013, "is based on a false connection between mental illness and violence," said Daniel Fisher, MD, PhD, of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 35 statewide and national organizations representing individuals with mental illnesses. Study after study shows that no such connection exists. In fact, individuals with mental illnesses are actually 11 times more likely to be victims of violence than is the general public.

Murphy's bill contains Orwellian examples of doublespeak, such as claiming that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a community-based alternative to institutionalization. "In reality," said NCMHR board member Joseph Rogers, "AOT is the opposite of a community-based alternative." AOT is more accurately called Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), under which someone with a serious mental health condition is court-mandated to follow a specific treatment plan, usually requiring medication and resulting in their institutionalization if they refuse. Any effectiveness of AOT/IOC is due to an increase in costly services, not coercion.  

Like HR 3717, HR 2646 would interfere with community inclusion by:

"We urge everyone to educate their legislators about why they should not support HR 2646," Dr. Fisher concluded.

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) works to ensure that consumer/survivors have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, and social policies at the state and national levels, empowering people to recover and lead a full life in the community.


  1. Wayne Singer's avatar
    Wayne Singer
    | Permalink
    I am a mental health social worker and I DO NOT support HR2646. However I am concerned about the statement it would cost more monies should the bill past. While this may be true my concern stems from the cyclical nature of clients who are in and out of community services costing the taxpayers extensive monies through repeat services, police actions, drug use control, court costs, etc. I do not have an answer nor is likely an answer to fit the many scenarios that are present. I could say I feel disheartened when I see so many citizens not receiving services when so much can be done.
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