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The Murphy Bill: Old wine in new bottles

August 01, 2015

ACEs Connection member Andrea Blanch and David Shern caution that the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646) could prove harmful to the very people it is intended to help, and ignores significant scientific advances in our understanding of the causes and treatment of mental illnesses.

  • In June, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646) was introduced by Reps. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).  Several groups have applauded the bill for focusing attention on the need for strengthening the nation’s mental health system.  Unfortunately, the bill proposes very little new, contains provisions that could prove harmful to the very people it is intended to help, and ignores significant scientific advances in our understanding of the causes and treatment of mental illnesses.

    Others have criticized in detail the bill’s emphasis on institutional and coercive approaches to treatment rather than on effective, voluntary community-based services; the elimination or drastic reduction in important programs overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); provisions that would curtail or limit enforcement of civil and privacy rights; and structural problems with proposed changes in federal mental health administration.  Here, we want to focus on another failing of the bill – the lost opportunity to build on what science has taught us during the past twenty years.

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