The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council) held a wildly successful Hill Day this past week. More than 550 mental health and addictions providers and advocates descended on Washington June 25th and 26th for the National Council's Public Policy Institute and Hill Day as two bills were introduced that would promote better health for the 1 in 5 Americans living with mental illness and addictions. National Council members are joined by advocates from Hill Day partners, Mental Health America and the U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association.
- “Hill Day is an opportunity for behavioral health stakeholders to connect with each other and their elected officials on important issues affecting the care they provide,” said Linda Rosenberg, National Council president and CEO. “It’s time behavioral health is treated on par with the rest of healthcare and we are here to advocate for that. This year is unique as we have a real opportunity for meaningful dialog with the introduction of two far-reaching bills just this past week dealing exclusively with mental health and addictions.”
In an uncommon occurrence on Capitol Hill, the past week has seen two new bills introduced focused exclusively on improving care for Americans with behavioral health needs:
- Excellence in Mental Health Act (H.R. 5989) — Companion to S. 2257, this legislation would establish national standards and oversight for Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Centers (FQCBHCs). These standards will bolster our nation’s community mental health and addictions system, providing new support for integrated and simplified treatment. The legislation will help prevent the development of costly health problems. It will also promote public health and safety by expanding treatment capacity, thus shifting the burden of substance abuse and mental health crises away from emergency and police departments.
- Mental Health First Aid Higher Education Act (H.R. 5996 / S. 3325) — This bill will authorize a demonstration program to train college faculty and staff in Mental Health First Aid, a community education program that helps people identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and addictions and deal with psychiatric crises. More than one-third of college students will experience a mental health problem during college, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among these young adults. More than 60,000 caring citizens across the U.S. have already been trained in Mental Health First Aid, a program that helps people take care of themselves and of each other.
For more information on the National Council’s Hill Day click here and follow the conversation on Twitter (#HillDay2012).