One Year After Newtown, Murphy Unveils Mental Health Reform Bill

Rep. Tim Murphy

Rep. Tim Murphy

Rep. Tim Murphy has introduced a bill that he hopes will revolutionize and fix the nation’s broken mental health care system.

Murphy (R-Allegheny) formally unveiled the Helping Families in Mental Health Crises Act Thursday. He was joined by fellow co-sponsors Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

Murphy, who is also a clinical psychologist, became prominently involved in the issue after the Sandy Hook school shooting last year and was named to a bipartisan committee to review the nation’s mental health programs in April.

“Those who need help the most are getting it the least because the nation’s mental health system is broken,” Murphy said. “Too many individuals with mental illness are ending up on the street or in jail because of mental illness. We must no longer be silent on need to help the mentally ill because millions of families are struggling with a son, daughter, or loved one who is sick and needs help.”

Many called on Congress to enact mental health reform in addition to gun control legislation in the wake of last year’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Gunman Adam Lanze murders 26 in the second deadliest mass shooting in American history.

But Murphy, who has enjoyed to support of the National Rifle Association, declined to engage the gun issue. He said he would instead focus on mental health, the area of his expertise.

The legislation aims to clarify the standards for committing an individual for care, updating the legal framework to facilitate communication between families and doctors and adapting data-driven evidence-based models of treatment.

The act also attempts to eliminate concerns that existing laws frustrate the efforts of parents and doctors to treat patients with SMI’s, or serious mental illnesses.

The legislation has the support of a number of prestigious mental health organizations, including the American Psychological Association.

“Comprehensive mental health reforms, such as those proposed in your legislation, deserve attention by a broad range of behavioral health stakeholders, and we appreciate your outreach and consideration of our input,” wrote Katherine Nordal, Executive Director for Professional Practice of the APA. “We are committed to working with you and other mental health leaders in Congress on the bill’s provisions and any necessary modifications to foster an improved service system.

“Treatment delayed is treatment denied, and without help there is no hope,” Rep. Murphy concluded. “Today, that begins to change.”

December 12th, 2013 | Posted in Congress, Front Page Stories, Top Stories | 8 Comments

8 thoughts on “One Year After Newtown, Murphy Unveils Mental Health Reform Bill”

  1. KR9999 says:

    In my post below, “writer of this article” was intended to refer to the first response posted here by Kailey, rather than the original article by Nick Field.

  2. KR9999 says:

    @New Liberal Lion: The reason offered by the writer of this article for not offering inpatient hospitalization treatment for mental illness is that it’s too costly. My point was that the lives of the Newtown children are PRICELESS, therefore if inpatient hospitalization is a bit more expensive but saves lives, then it’s worth it. Maybe I’m a unique voter but I don’t blindly agree with any legislation based of the party affiliation of the author. I read the bill, if it’s good, I support it. If it’s not, I don’t. When it comes to treating the mentally ill, I will support any bill offering meaningful action to make effective treatment accessible to those who need it; I don’t care if the author is a Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, Independent or No Party Affiliation. This is a humanity issue and it’s unfortunate for anyone to politicize it. In the case of Adam Lanza and Newtown, treatment and hospitalization would have not only saved the victims, it would have given Lanza a chance to live a productive healthy life. I’m definitely opposed to the mentally ill having guns and think Nancy Lanza was an idiot for allowing her son to get anywhere near one. However, even with out the guns, Adam would have still been a ticking time bomb in his dark basement. Sooner or later, he would have hurt someone, somewhere using a car or a stick or a knife. Only by treating the illness itself, will we have a chance to change outcomes for everyone. Isn’t that something that liberal or conservative lions, tigers or bears should all get behind?

  3. amy says:

    Kelly you obviously are not a caregiver to a schizophrenic. I am and this is a great bill for those who suffer in the deepest end of the pool of mentally illness. Imagine seeking help for your family member who is in obvious cardiac distress and the doctor says to you (1) we cant treat your son until his heady explodes(2) we cant tell you anything about what happens after he is admitted and oh by the way we will be sending him home in need of intensive care and you will provide it.

  4. Eric Sniedelman says:

    The Bazelon Center receives funding from scientologists to espouse anti-psychiatry claptrap. People are dying because the Bazelon center wants to allow persons with severe paranoid delusions to make decisions that put the rest of us – but really the caregiver -in jeopardy. Bazelon center and disability rights attorneys have never tried to get medical treatment for a loved one and have never seen the consequences of their dangerous and self interested battle against neuroscience. Living with someone who has psychosis is hell but Bazelon center doesn’t care about the families because they’re getting fat and happy with cash from Tom cruise.

  5. NEWLIBERAL_LION says:

    @KR9999 How dare you ask “What are the Newton kids worth?” I bet you are voting against your own interests and voting republican.

  6. Lenny says:

    America wake up! Loons and guns don’t mix. Another 32,000+ killed in the year since the Newton shootings. Hundreds of millions of guns in American hands, many are in the hands of drug infected loons, let alone the ordinary American loon. Then there’s the criminal element, with the gangs and everyday murders. You have a sick society with a sick warped mentality. Americans say it’s their right bear arms? America is full of cowards who need guns to settle disputes, and today I turn the news on and another school shooting in the US. When is enough, enough? Fair dinkum, your kids are more likely to die by a gun than mine, I live in Australia where we respect lives more than gun ownership,or some BS Second Amendment. American congressmen/women are warmongers and liars, who have been known to drag their allies into war with fabricated evidence. Oliver Stones The Untold History of the United States Bush & Obama The Age of Terror. What a dog of President the Bush’s were, Gore should have been President but had it stolen from him. The my country was dragged into a war. America a land of shame.

  7. KR9999 says:

    As the mom and primary caregiver of a 24 year old son suffering from serious mental illness, I applaud this bill. I’m rather shocked at the previous commenters statement “Because hospitalization is far more expensive and has far worse outcomes than these effective, and cost-efficient, community-based services” obviously this person has NO experience whatsoever with serious mental illness. Community based programs and peer counseling are lovely for a bunch of depressed housewives. Serious Mental Illness like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder needs to be viewed the same way other serious illnesses are, and serious illnesses are best treated in a hospital. Perhaps an outpatient clinic is great for a sprained ankle or an ear infection, but only a hospital is appropriate for a bone marrow transplant or back surgery. When a loved one is so psychotic that they are hallucinating, unable to sleep and wandering away for up to 48 consecutive hours, walking in the middle of the road because they aren’t mentally there enough to understand they may get hit by a car, the only safe, secure, healthy place for him is in a hospital. I know from personal experience that stabilization outside is nearly impossible. Inside, it takes 5-7 days. Cost? Are you kidding me? What is my sons life worth? I have paid hundreds of thousands for his treatment over the years. He is worth it. What were the Newtown kids worth? I actually read all 135 pages of this bill, and there are a few minor areas that could be improved, but understand that it is primarily directed at SMI’s with psychotic episodes and the fact is that untreated psychosis more often then not will result in violence or commission of a crime. My son and every other SMI patient I know would far rather have a week in a hospital than a night in jail followed by 6-12 months of nightmare and lawyer bills from a misdemeanor charge of battery on a police officer because he was too psychotic to follow an officers orders to sit down in a public park. Families need to be able to help our loved ones better. It’s disgusting that I could bring my son into any ER unconscious and authorize emergency treatment but I can’t do it with mental illness. The stigma against the mentally ill worsens when we have to wait until after the person does something dangerous to get them in treatment and they are out in the world wreaking havoc. Early intervention would work wonders and this bill opens the door for us to be able to get that for our loved ones.

  8. Kailey says:

    This is a very bad bill. It’s very unfortunate that you neglected to mention any of the terrible consequences this bill would have if passed. From the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law:

    “This legislation would eliminate initiatives that promote recovery from serious mental illnesses through the use of evidence-based, voluntary, peer-run services and family supports,” said Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., a founder of the NCMHR. “These services have a proven track record in helping people stay out of the hospital and live successfully in the community. Because hospitalization is far more expensive and has far worse outcomes than these effective, and cost-efficient, community-based services, this bill would cost more money for worse outcomes.

    “Even worse,” Dr. Fisher added, “the bill greatly promotes stigma and discrimination by its unfounded and damaging connection between mental illness and violence.”

    NDRN, NCMHR and the Bazelon Center note that the bill does not represent the mainstream of national thought, practice and research.

    “This proposal targets the rights of individuals with mental illnesses and restructures federal funding to heavily encourage the use of force and coercion. It also would reduce privacy protections and rights advocacy,” said NDRN executive director Curt Decker.

    “Most troubling, this legislation threatens to essentially dismantle the efforts of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to promote recovery and community inclusion for the broad variety of people in our community – and to do so at a time when SAMHSA’s efforts to ensure that effective behavioral health approaches are fully integrated into public health are essential,” said Harvey Rosenthal, a Bazelon Center trustee.

    From the National Disability Rights Network:

    “Today, Congressman Tim Murphy introduced legislation that, if passed, would reverse some of the advances of the last 30 years in mental health services and supports. It would exchange low-cost services that have good outcomes for higher-cost yet ineffective interventions, according to the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 32 statewide organizations and others representing individuals with mental illnesses; the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the non-profit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities; and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a national non-profit legal advocacy organization.

    “This legislation would eliminate initiatives that promote recovery from serious mental illnesses through the use of evidence-based, voluntary, peer-run services and family supports,” said Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., a founder of the NCMHR. “These services have a proven track record in helping people stay out of the hospital and live successfully in the community. Because hospitalization is far more expensive and has far worse outcomes than these effective, and cost-efficient, community-based services, this bill would cost more money for worse outcomes.

    “Even worse,” Dr. Fisher added, “the bill greatly promotes stigma and discrimination by its unfounded and damaging connection between mental illness and violence.”

    NDRN, NCMHR and the Bazelon Center note that the bill does not represent the mainstream of national thought, practice and research.

    “This proposal targets the rights of individuals with mental illnesses and restructures federal funding to heavily encourage the use of force and coercion. It also would reduce privacy protections and rights advocacy,” said NDRN executive director Curt Decker.”

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