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National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery says no to HR 3717

July 25, 2014

It has been a busy week for those both for and against HR 3717, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013.” We are featuring calls to action both for and against to stay consistent with our approach of giving all sides an opportunity to express their opinion on the CMHNetwork website. As always Network faithful, explore all sides, do your homework, and make informed decisions.

Below is the Action Alert from the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery:

ACTION ALERT: Stop the Murphy Bill National Call-in Weeks, July 21 – August 1  

CALL YOUR REPS BEFORE AUGUST RECESS TO TELL THEM NO ON H.R. 3717!

  • H.R. 3717, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013,” is “shockingly regressive” mental health legislation that would reverse some of the most significant advances of the last 30 years in mental health services and supports. It would exchange low-cost services that have positive outcomes, for higher-cost yet ineffective interventions.

    Among the problematic provisions of Rep. Murphy’s bill is the establishment of a grants program to expand Assisted Outpatient Commitment (AOT), under which someone diagnosed with a serious mental illness is court-mandated to follow a specific treatment plan, usually requiring medication. Yet the facts show that AOT is not effective, involves high costs with minimal returns, breeds mistrust within families, and is not likely to reduce violence. There are more effective alternatives.

    Rep. Murphy’s bill also attacks the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy programs, which are the primary provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.

    The Murphy Bill continues to gain co-sponsors and we need your help to stop this. For the next two weeks, please contact your Representatives to tell them NO on H.R. 3717! 

What you can do:

  • Find out if any of your Representatives are co-sponsors.
  • If any of your Representatives are co-sponsoring, you should respectfully request that they remove their co-sponsorship.
  • Those who are not co-sponsoring should be thanked and encouraged to stay off the bill. Let them know there is strong opposition/controversy within the cross-disability community on this bill.

Talking points 

  • Call and email your representatives TODAY with the following points:
    • The AOT interventions proposed in the bill are costly, ineffective and drive people away from seeking support.
    • The bill’s provisions run counter to Olmstead v. LC (1999), which calls for persons with disabilities to receive services in the “most integrated setting.”
    • The bill would slash innovative and promising programs and services developed by persons in mental health recovery and their families to help prevent and address crisis in our communities.
    • The bill would amend HIPAA to erode privacy rights for people who have a mental health diagnosis.

DC office contacts

  • Call the DC offices of your state’s House Members and ask which staff assists that Congressperson on mental health issues.
  • Speak with the staff if you can or leave a detailed voice message and ask them to call you back.
  •  Talk about the bill in general – e.g. while more needs to be done on mental health, the billʼs approach is counterproductive – then explain further by focusing on specific examples if possible, using your talking points as a guide.
  • Describe the important mental health and legal services you would lose if the bill became law, and the problems imposing involuntary and facility-based treatment.
  • Stress that people with mental health disabilities are routinely subject to abuse, neglect and discrimination, and lack access to voluntary services and supports we need to be successful and thrive in the community; and that we must self direct our care to move toward recovery and self-sufficiency.
  • While the public is concerned with safety in the wake of mass shootings, targeting people with serious mental health diagnoses won’t address the problem. People with these diagnoses are only responsible for 4% of violent crimes committed in the US, and are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator.

Social Media Action 

  • Twitter: Find your Member of Congress on Twitter and send a short message using any of the talking points above.
    Sample Tweet: @YourCongressperson Vote NO on #HR3717. It would erode our liberty and privacy rights, and will not make us safer as a nation. 
  • Facebook: Find the FB page of your Member of Congress and send a short message using any of the talking points above.

This work is not over! Congress will be home for the August recess and we will encourage you to reach out to them. Stay tuned.

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