Legislation Recognizing Behavioral Health’s Central Role in Community Health & Safety
Washington, DC (Feb. 7, 2013) — Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act today. This legislation would support the nation’s community mental health and addictions system by establishing national standards and oversight for Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Centers (FQCBHCs). For the 1 in 5 Americans living with mental illnesses and addictions, this would mean greater access to the services and treatments needed to keep them healthy and safe in their communities.
“Behavioral health has long been left out of the federal dictionary,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “As a result, mental health and addiction providers cannot receive the critical federal funds that support other safety net providers. They share the unique responsibilities of the safety-net — but none of the supports.”
Community mental health and addiction providers struggle to meet the existing needs of vulnerable Americans because of cobbled funding streams and insufficient resources.
In a statement made at the Capitol today, Rosenberg said, “Over the 30 years I’ve worked in behavioral health, I have heard an untold number of stories about real people who need care, but go without. I’ve seen ERs so mired down by the needs of people with mental illnesses and addictions that it interferes with their ability to serve their primary function. I’ve talked with family members who have knocked on every door and still don’t know where to get help for their loved ones. The Excellence in Mental Health Act would help right this wrong.”
The National Council looks forward to working with Senator Debbie Stabenow to ensure passage of the Excellence in Mental Health Act to create a new federal definition and standards for FQBHCs and to improve access to mental health and addictions care for the millions who need it.
The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s community mental health and addictions treatment organizations. Together with our 2,000 member organizations, we serve our nation’s most vulnerable citizens — the more than 8 million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. We are committed to ensuring all Americans have access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery and full participation in community life. The National Council pioneered Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. and has trained nearly 100,000 individuals to connect youth and adults in need to mental health and addictions care in their communities. Learn more at www.TheNationalCouncil.org.