House Passes U.S. Rep. McSally Mental Health Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation sponsored by U.S. Representative Martha McSally to help local communities better treat mental health. The legislation, a part of Congresswoman McSally’s Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, includes provisions to provide support to mentally-ill offenders re-entering the community, expand assistance to individuals with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders, and improve training for law enforcement to better identify and respond to instances involving mental illness.
“For too long, our failed mental health care system has left families and communities with nowhere to turn. Today, that changes,” said Rep. McSally. “The House-passed legislation includes provisions I sponsored to help communities better respond to mental health crises and provide better treatment options for families and individuals struggling with mental illness. These provisions were the result of months of hard work and the bipartisan support of a diverse group of lawmakers and organizations, including mental health advocates and law enforcement. Today’s landmark bill also overhauls our mental health system for the first time in 50 years. I’m proud to see these important reforms pass the House and will continue to work to get them passed in the Senate and signed into law.”
“One way we can help those with mental illness get the treatment they need is by ensuring that families, law enforcement and our criminal justice system are equipped to respond to mental health crises and provide treatment to mentally ill individuals in need of help,’” said Sen. John Cornyn, who introduced the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act in the Senate. “Fixing our mental health system is more important than ever, and I’m glad these bipartisan reforms are included in the 21st Century Cures legislation.”
Rep. McSally’s legislation that passed the House today was originally included in the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, which she introduced on October 8, 2015. The bill has bipartisan support in the House and has been endorsed by a wide array of organizations including mental health and law enforcement advocates.
Since taking office, Rep. McSally has placed a strong focus on helping families and communities better respond to mental health issues. In January, she held a roundtable with over 30 representatives from Southern Arizona non-profits, hospitals, mental health and veterans organizations, and law enforcement to discuss addressing mental health. She participated in a ride-along with a Pima County Sheriff’s deputy to view the department’s mental health programs first-hand. She has visited the Arizona Superior Court Mental Health Court to meet with Judge Danelle Liwski and toured the federal prison in Tucson and the UA Emergency Room to hear how mental illness is currently being treated at those facilities. She also recently toured and met with leadership at the Sonora Behavioral Health Center in Tucson.
Legislation introduced by Rep. McSally that passed the House today include provisions to:
- Expand funding for the creation of mental health response and corrections programs;
- Develop and implement specialized residential substance abuse treatment programs that provide treatment to individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.
- Authorize grants to be used for the creation of court-ordered outpatient treatment programs to prevent the escalation of mental health crises;
- Divert low-level offenders from incarceration to treatment programs;
- And allow funds to be used to develop and operate school-based mental health crisis intervention teams that include coordination with law enforcement agencies and specialized training for school officials.
For a full list of Rep. McSally’s mental health provisions to pass the House today, click HERE (the provisions begin on page 29, Title XIV, Sec. 140001-14029).