Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee marked up a major mental health bill, S. 689. The bill is an excellent step forward for mental health issues. We are glad to see this reported out of Committee and hope Congress passes it soon. The bill does a number of things including:
- Expands the use of positive behavioral interventions and early intervening services in schools to reduce over-identification of individuals with disabilities and reduce disciplinary problems in schools.
- Allows funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to be used for school-wide intervention services and to create or update school emergency management plans.
- Reauthorizes the Youth Suicide Early Intervention and Prevention Strategies grants to states and tribes (about $30 million to be appropriated for each fiscal year from 2014 to 2018).
- Reauthorizes the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services on Campuses grant programs; and allow for the education of students, families, faculty and staff to increase awareness and training to respond to students with mental health and substance use disorders (about $5 million to be appropriated for each fiscal year from 2014 to 2018).
- Reauthorizes grants to states, political subdivisions of states, American Indian tribes, tribal organizations and nonprofit private entities to train teachers, school personnel and emergency services personnel to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness (about $20 million to be appropriated for each fiscal year from 2014 to 2018).
- Reauthorizes the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative, which supports a national network of child trauma centers (about $46 million to be appropriated for each fiscal year from 2014 to 2018).
- Requires a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the federal requirements impacting access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment related to integration with primary care, administrative and regulatory issues, quality measurement and accountability and data sharing.
- Directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to advance the education and awareness of providers, patients and other stakeholders regarding FDA-approved products to treat opioid use disorders.
- Requires a GAO report on the utilization of mental health services for children.
- Requires a GAO study on the status of the implementation of the recommendations outlined in a report to President George W. Bush in 2007 by the secretaries of Health and Human Services and Education and the attorney general regarding the Virginia Tech shootings.
While this bill does not address eating disorders specifically (or any other specific illness or disease) it is a very important piece of legislation. It addresses many critical areas of mental health care and we applaud the HELP Committee for passing it and urge the Senate to take it up quickly and pass it. The EDC is closely monitoring and actively working to make sure this bill passes.
*Summary from Congressional Quarterly