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Support Legislation to Strengthen Community Behavioral Healthcare

By       Message Kenneth Briggs     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Public Policy Update

As previously reported, on October 17,two important long-awaited National Council For Community Behavioral Healthcare bills to strengthen community mental health were introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Jack Reed [D-RI] and Gordon Smith [R-OR], the Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act [S.2182} and Community-Based Mental Health Infrastructure Improvement Act [S. 2183]. The National Council has worked hard to garner Congressional support for these proposals. Now it needs your help in getting Senatorial co-sponsors for these bills.

The National Council needs your help securing co-sponsors for the Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act in the U.S. Senate. This important legislation would amend the Public Health Service Act to include provisions to co-locate primary care and specialty medical care in community-based mental health and addiction treatment organizations. In addition, the bill includes training and loan assistance programs designed to address the recruitment and retention of qualified behavioral healthcare workers, particularly in health professional shortage areas.

A model letter follows:

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The Honorable [Senators Name]

|Senate Building Name and Room Number| Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

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Dear Senator |Name|:

On behalf of community mental health and substance abuse agencies in the state of

|Your State|, I am writing to ask you to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act [ S. 2182] and the Community-Based Mental Health Infrastructure Improvements Act [S. 2183]. The provisions of these bills, introduced by Senators Jack Reed [D-RI] and Gordon Smith [R-OR], will have far-reaching implications for the health and well being of persons living with mental illness.

A 2006 report based on data collected from eight public mental health systems- found that people with mental illnesses seem to have the shortest life expectancy, and the highest levels of disability, among any other subgroup in all of American public health. For this reason, the National Council is particularly pleased with the inclusion of provisions that would co-locate primary care, specialty medical care and substance abuse treatment in Community Mental Health Organizations in [your state] and across the United States.

S. 2182 and 2183 also address the behavioral healthcare “workforce crisis” referred to in the President’s New Freedom Commission Report. Both the new university-based training programs as well as additional student loan assistance should help community mental health programs operating in health professional shortage areas. In addition, the new tele-mental heath and health information technology programs contained in this legislation should help address the twin goals and expanding access to behavioral health services in rural areas.

Please consider supporting community mental health and substance abuse treatment providers in [your state] by agreeing to co-sponsor S. 2182 and S. 2183.

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The National Council and I urge you to contact your Senators and to reach out to others in your communities and states to sign letters in support of S. 2182 and S. 2183.

People and organizations you may wish to contact include:

State legislators


State and local NAMI and MHA chapters

Sheriffs and other law enforcement officials /organizations

Chambers of Commerce and other business groups

Local newspaper editors and television stations

Please share your letters in support of S. 2182 and S. 2183 with the National Council. Contact Allison Fort at to share copies of your letters with the National Council so that it may track support for the bills.

Fact sheets on both bills are available online, as well as the full text of the legislation.






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An OEN Editor. Born-03/20/1934, BA Pol. Sci.-U of Washington-1956, MBA-Seattle U-1970, Boeing-Program Control-1957-1971, State of Oregon-Mental Health Division-Deputy Admistrator-1971-1979, llinois Association of Community MH (more...)

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