According to the US Census Bureau, 42% of Americans reported symptoms of depression in the previous year. The number grew a whopping 11% jump since the previous year. The growing number of mental health issues is one of the most important issues we face as a country. And like all other issues, it is important to be well represented and to discuss with the federal government.
Many advocates for universal and affordable mental health care work around the clock. However, much of the responsibility in terms of providing funds and spreading awareness rests with the government. Fortunately, several mental health bills have been considered and garnered tremendous support across the political spectrum. These mental health laws have the potential to turn into strong mental health legislation.
Mental health laws and, ultimately, legislation are necessary for various reasons. These include its critical role in the following:
- Protecting the rights of people with mental health disorders,
- Provide high-quality, accessible care to all patients, and
- Reduce stigma and misinformation associated with mental illness.
On that note, let’s dig deeper into the most important mental health bills currently being debated in the Senate.
1. The Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Bill
Sens. Chris Murphy and Bill Cassidy introduced the mental health reform reauthorization bill into the Senate in May 2022. Subsequently, the bill was sent to the Health and Education Committee. The main plans of the bill are:
- Reopening the initiatives put forward under the law of the twenty-first century,
- Increasing the scope of the review process within the Substance Misuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) operations, and
- Increasing the current number of workers in the mental health care sector.
Read more: Is mental health a global issue?
2. The Mental Health Matters Act
The House of Representatives passed the Mental Health Matters Act in September 2022. The bill is primarily focused on providing more resources and support for mental health care for students, teachers, and families. The main plans for the bill include:
- Directing the Department of Education to provide grants to retain and increase mental health service providers in schools,
- Ensure accommodation and inclusion for students with disabilities
- Increasing the capacity of the Ministry of Labor to raise special mental health plans and benefits guaranteed to employees.
3. Invest in Resilience, Support and Shock Expansion (RISE).
The RISE from Trauma Act was introduced to the Senate by Senator Richard Durbin in 2021. The major plans for the bill include:
- allocate specific funds to run pilot programs to support the well-being of children suffering from trauma,
- Increasing the number of healthcare workers familiarized with trauma, and
- Developing preventive and awareness projects for hospitalized patients who have committed suicide to reduce trauma and stress.
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Mental health bills have a pivotal role in promoting awareness of mental health and its treatment among the general public. They are necessary to safeguard and protect the rights of vulnerable sections of the country dealing with mental health illnesses and disabilities. With more and more mental health care bills being discussed and passed by the federal government, we can hope for a strong system of care and support for those in need.
Support for mental health is not just limited to governments and lawmakers. Everyone at the primary level can contribute to creating an informed and supportive community. Mental health first aid certification courses are one way to promote awareness of mental health among the public and to provide appropriate first aid mental health care when needed. to find out, click here.
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