STAMFORD, Conn. -- A member of the Rotary Club of Stamford shared his story of enduring abuse as a child and a teenager and overcoming his desire to commit suicide with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who had come to the city to tout his mental health legislation.
Ric Meyer told Murphy that his suicide plan was discovered, and he was able to get the mental health help that he needed.
"I care about mental health because my family and I are the faces of real people dealing with mental health issues," Meyer said. "I am a survivor and an advocate, and I have been for many years."
Meyer praised Murphy for his work on mental health issues. The senator introduced the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 with U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
"We have something that he has proposed that is monumental," Meyer said of Murphy's bill and his work on improving mental health treatment.
Everyone has been touched by mental illness in some way — whether they have experienced it themselves or have seen it in family members, friends or neighbors, Murphy said.
"You know someone who has gone through a similar journey. That person might be you, that person might be your husband or your wife or your child or your neighbor. Serious mental illness is a neighbor to all of us," Murphy said .
However, he said, mental health issues have been ignored or shunted to the sidelines in Washington, D.C.
"Washington has been just mired in indifference to the epidemic of mental illness that is sweeping across our country " he said.
Murphy's proposed bill focuses on three areas: increasing capacity to treat people with mental health issues; integrating the physical and mental health systems to ensure proper care; and erasing layers of what Murphy called "discrimination in the system" for people affected by mental health issues that often prevent them from getting care, he said.
The bill passed though the Health Committee in a unanimous vote last week, Murphy said.
The Rotary Club of Stamford President Daniel Morris said the group's movement is focused on health issues ranging from clean water, to medical clinics to mental health issues.
"We're a service organization and this fit very nicely with what our mandate is," he said of Murphy's concern about mental health issues.
Morris said the club supports is a dental clinic in Monrovia, Liberia, and has also thrown its support behind creating an eye clinic there as well.