Murphy Unveils Bill to Address Mental Health Crisis

By:  Daniela Altimari
Hartford Courant

A bipartisan group of senators, including Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, is once again pushing far-reaching legislation that aims to change the way behavioral health care is delivered.

Staff members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions released a draft the bill, which would bolster block grants for states to provide mental health services, increase access to behavioral health programs for veterans, homeless people and children.

"Our mental health care system is failing those who need it most,'' said Murphy, who has been an outspoken advocate of improving the system since the Sandy Hook school shootings.

"Individuals struggling with mental illness may go years without receiving treatment, ultimately suffering in isolation, or being cast aside and abandoned by the very system they should be relying on. Too many Americans with serious mental illness slip through the cracks, and Congress must act to stop it,'' Murphy added.

The measure is based largely on a mental health bill put together by Murphy and Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana. But the committee is adding provisions to the legislation to address the rising epidemic in opioid abuse.

“Our mental health system is broken—the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 begins to fix it,” said Cassidy, who is also a medical doctor.

“We have all seen a promising life destroyed by untreated mental illness. Destroying not just the person, but also their family. By focusing and making resources available for patients and families, we can help restore mental health to the emotionally broken,'' Cassidy said.