Critter Corner: New Mental Health Bill Introduced in Congress

Dear Commander Bun Bun,

I am a caregiver for my brother, who has schizophrenia. I heard something about a bill to help caregivers like myself and those with mental illnesses. Do you know anything about it, and if so, can you provide information?


Bill Forus


Dear Bill,

Nearly 10 million Americans have serious mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression); but millions are going without treatment as families struggle to find care for loved ones.  Last week, the House voted 422-2 in favor of HR 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act to help with the situation.

The Bill, which is driven by Tim Murphy, R-Pa., a clinical psychologist, is a huge step toward the first major overhaul of the federal government’s approach to mental health in years. Murphy, backed by advocacy groups all over the country, is focused on changing federal policies that make it difficult for family members to get help for a troubled relative.  Since the Sandy Hook school shootings in 2012, Murphy has lobbied his colleagues to focus more attention on early assessment and intervention.

The bill, if passed into law, would:

● target resources where they can best improve the mental health system;

● push for more dollars to combat serious mental illness;

● establish greater accountability measurements to make sure funding is used effectively, and that outcomes are improved;

● give judges an easier path to require treatment;

● amend privacy laws to make it easier for caregivers to seek treatment for mentally ill patients;

● address effective discharge planning to ensure a timely and smooth transition from the hospital to appropriate post-hospital care and services;

● provide additional psychiatric hospital beds for those experiencing an acute mental health crisis and in need of short term (less than 30 days) immediate inpatient care for patient stabilization;

● advances early intervention and prevention programs;

● provide community-based alternatives to institutionalization for those with serious mental illness, such as assisted outpatient treatment and other assisted-care community approaches;

● focus on suicide prevention;

● advance integration between primary and behavioral care; and

● increase program coordination across the federal government.

The Bill was passed by the House and was received in the Senate on July 7. Read more about the Bill here.

Hop this is helpful,

Commander Bun Bun

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.