By Aubrey Boggs, CMWN Intern

While Senate Image that reads: "If not now when?"Bill 2680, the “Mental Health Reform Act of 2016”, is not a perfect vision of mental health care, it does offer significantly better language and ideas than HR 2646, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.” Where HR 2646 ignores the importance of listening to the community it seeks to serve, SB 2680 includes those individuals in the conversation. A portion of the bill seeks to implement the “inter-departmental serious mental illness coordinating committee” which requires that at least one member of the committee be an individual with mental health conditions that has received a diagnosis and treatment, one parent or guardian of an individual with mental health condition, and one certified mental health peer support specialist.

It seems the bill sponsors understand the importance of including individuals with mental health conditions in this process!

This bill is rather long and covers many areas surrounding mental health and substance use treatment, but some of the language and ideas worth mentioning include:

  • The bills changes language in the Public Mental Health Act to include recovery, the promotion of resiliency, and calling for “culturally and linguistically appropriate services”
  • This bill does not take away SAMHSA’s ability to support mental health and substance use treatment, but instead uses SAMHSA as a resource for these services
  • The bill seeks to increase access to information on available services and other resources for communities and non-profits
  • SB 2680 would initiate a study on SAMHSA funded peer support specialist programs, evaluating the benefits of those programs and how they operate
  • A piece of this bill calls for creating a summary of recommendations concerning the state of mental health in the United States

Grant provisions within the bill would provide funding for things like:

  • Maternal depression screenings and services
  • Nonprofits that offer infant and early childhood prevention and treatment services
  • Communities experiencing “emerging drug abuse issues”
  • “Integration Incentive Grants”, which encourages states to take on the task of integrating primary and mental health and substance use health care in order to provide more comprehensive    health services
  • Assisting individuals experiencing homelessness and have substance use disorders
  • Continued support of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Program
  • Grants for “Strengthening community crisis response systems”
  • And more…

There is more to share, watch for another blog post later this week… As soon as we know the next reading date we will communicate it to you!

What do you think? Do you think this bill is enough? We’d like to hear from our readers! Comment here or email us at [email protected]

The Senate’s Version of MH Reform

Amanda Kearney-Smith

I founded the Network as the Executive Director in 2011 and, before that, I was a program director at Mental Health Colorado. My educational background is in Developmental Psychology, but living with bipolar disorder has drawn me to this work. I'm most passionate about protecting the civil rights and dignity of others. In my free time, I love reading, practicing yoga, and spending time with my family here and in Illinois.

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