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MHA Applauds Senate Passage of Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act

Mental Health America Applauds Senate Passage of Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act

Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or svetzner@mentalhealthamerica.net

Statement of Wayne W. Lindstrom, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (April 18, 2013)—Mental Health America applauds the Senate's overwhelming passage by a vote of 95-2 of the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act (S. 689), the first significant mental health legislation passed by the Senate since 2008.

The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act reauthorizes and improves programs administered by both the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services related to awareness, prevention, and early identification of mental health conditions, and the promotion of linkages to appropriate services for children and youth. MHA commends Senators Harkin and Alexander for crafting S. 689, which was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on April 10th.

Mental Health America is particularly pleased that the legislation reauthorizes important federal programs such as the Garrett Lee Smith suicide prevention programs for states and college campuses as well as the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI) which supports a national network of child trauma centers. This bipartisan legislation also includes provisions to improve access to mental health care in schools (Mental Health in Schools Act). Additionally S. 689 authorizes a new federal Mental Health Awareness Training program modeled on the Mental Health First Aid legislation.

Mental Health America recognizes that this vote is an important first step. There is critical work yet to be done.  We urge the Senate to take up other important mental health initiatives, such as the Excellence in Mental Health Act, MIOTCRA, and seclusion and restraint legislation. Mental Health America pledges to continue working with Congress to pass these initiatives given the raised awareness of mental health issues and the critical need for services and supports included in this package. Our time is now.

Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net), founded in 1909, is the nation’s leading community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our 240 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.

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