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.”