The Helping Families in Mental Crisis Act passed the House of Representatives on July 6th with a vote of 422-2. In a state as deprived of mental health care as Georgia, the Helping Families in Mental Crisis Act could help improve access to health care through Medicaid, emphasize early detection and treatment of mental illness, and improve the vast shortages of mental health care workers in the U.S.
As we know, Georgia has been failing to adequately address mental health care for its most struggling citizens. Specifically in the planning for transitions from hospitals to other institutionalized settings, providing community housing, dealing with staff shortages, and providing access to care. All of which would be addressed on a federal level by the bill.
The 152-page bill covers a multitude of topics, some of the most beneficial to Georgia being:
– Improve transitions from one level of care to another
– Fix crisis mental health bed shortages
– Reach under-served and rural populations
– Enhance the mental health workforce and alleviate personnel shortages
– Advance early intervention and prevention programs
– Provide incentives for community-based alternatives to institutionalization
– Reduce stigma by establishing supports for protection and advocacy
We are now waiting for The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, the Senate version of the Helping Families in Mental Crisis Act, to come to the floor. In addition to taking this bill one step closer to being able to help people in crisis, a few key supports that were removed from the bill in the house may be reconsidered.