The mass shooting that left 12 people dead at the Washington Navy Yard has reinvigorated discussions on mental health. Click to hear Wednesday morning’s press conference with U. S. Senator Roy Blunt:
Blunt wants to see the issue receive more attention from the federal government. “It’s a topic that, for whatever reason, the country and the federal government doesn’t like to deal with,” said Blunt, “In fact, after the Newtown shootings, the Senate Health Committee, that has jurisdiction, had a hearing on mental health in January of this year. That was the first hearing they’ve had since 2007.”
Blunt is working on the “Excellence in Mental Health Act.” The legislation would allow federally qualified clinics to add behavioral health to their services.
“We have several clinics in Missouri already doing this. I think, whether we had a pilot program opportunity, or an overall change in the law, Missouri would likely be right at the front of that line that the federal government would turn to and say, ‘Let’s see how we can do this and make it better?'”
Blunt also co-sponsors the Mental Health Awareness Act, The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act, and the Mental Health First Aid Act.
Press Release from the Office of Senator Blunt
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In light of news outlets this week widely reporting that Aaron Alexis, the man who allegedly committed Monday’s horrible Navy Yard shootings, suffered from potentially severe mental illness, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), lead co-sponsors of the bipartisan “Excellence in Mental Health Act,” today released the following statement:
“It is unfortunate another tragedy had to occur to again show the need to strengthen mental health services in America. Our bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act expands access to care and improves quality of care so people living with mental illness can get the treatment they need.
“The vast majority of people living with mental illness are not violent, and are in fact more likely to be victims of violence. That said, we know that in the absence of timely diagnosis and proper treatment, people experiencing their first psychotic episode are 15 times more likely to commit a violent act than those in treatment.
“Instead of merely talking about this issue in the wake of tragedies, it is time to finally take bipartisan action to improve our mental health care services.”
The Excellence in Mental Health Act expands access to mental health treatment including 24-hour crisis psychiatric services and improves the quality of care through community-based providers.
The bill is supported by over 50 mental health organizations, veterans organizations and law enforcement organizations including: the National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health America, National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Give An Hour, among many others.
The bill is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (R.I.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Susan Collins (Maine), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Chris Coons (Del.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.).
The Excellence in Mental Health Act
Most individuals living with mental illness are not a danger to themselves or anyone else—in fact, studies show that individuals with a serious mental illness are actually more likely to be a victim rather than a perpetrator of violence. However, we know that in some cases the consequences of lack of treatment can be dire. There is growing bipartisan consensus that we must strengthen our mental health services so that Americans can get the care they need.
America’s Mental Health Services Need Strengthening:
· One-third of those with mood disorders do not receive treatment and fewer than half of those with severe mental disorders receive treatment of any kind in a given year.
· People who go without treatment after experiencing their first psychotic episode are 15 times more likely to commit acts of violence than those who do receive treatment.
· At least 25% of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are in need of some type of mental health treatment. Twenty-two American veterans commit suicide every day.
The Excellence in Mental Health Act:
· Establishes criteria to ensure more community providers can serve more people and offer a broad range of mental health services, including:
o 24-hour crisis psychiatric services
o Integrated preventive screenings with mental health services to ensure more comprehensive care
o Integrated treatment for mental illness and substance abuse, including cognitive behavioral therapy
o Expanded peer support and counselor services for patients and families
· Provides an incentive to achieve these new standards by allowing behavioral health services to be reimbursed under Medicaid, just like other providers are reimbursed for comprehensive primary care services.