December 19, 2014 email entitled NAMI Advocacy Update: December 2014
Congressional Budget Bill a Mixed Bag
This past weekend Congress passed the “Continuing Resolution – Omnibus” spending bill (HR 83) for the remaining months of fiscal year 2015 which runs through Sept. 30, 2015. The measure is now waiting for the President’s signature. This bill contains good news and bad news for mental health. The good news: HR 83 provides a small increase in funding for mental illness research. Bad news: the bill includes a small reduction for mental health services.
Mental Health Investment By States Slowed in 2014
NAMI just released a report highlighting what went on in state legislatures in 2014 across the country when it comes to mental health issues. The report, State Mental Health Legislation 2014 shows that investment in mental health services slowed from last year and that when progress was made around specific policy issues much of the legislation felt like it only skimmed the surface.
NAMI Submits Comments on NIMH Strategic Plan
On December 11, NAMI submitted comments on the proposed five-year plan for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The plan includes a range of ambitious goals for mental illness research including:
- Defining the biological basis of complex behaviors.
- Charting mental illness trajectories to determine when, where, and how to intervene.
- Striving for prevention and cures.
- Strengthening the public health impact of NIMH-supported research.
View NAMI’s comments on the NIMH 2015 Strategic Plan.
View the NIMH Strategic Plan.
Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill Fails, but Mental Health Screenings for Active Duty Passes
Legislation to bolster veterans’ suicide prevention has failed in Congress after outgoing Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) placed a hold on it. Known as the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (HR 5059), the $22 million bill would increase access to mental health care and expand the VA workforce. Coburn said the bill d uplicates existing VA efforts, but NAMI will work with other advocacy organizations to work towards its reintroduction and passage in the next Congress.
At the same, Congress did include an important new set of requirements for the Department of Defense (DoD) to undertake annual mental health screenings for Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve service members as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4435). This legislation has cleared both houses of Congress and will soon be signed into law by the President.
The final agreement on the defense bill includes a Senate provision – sponsored by Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) – that requires DoD to provide a person-to-person mental health assessment for Active Duty and Selected Reserve members each year. The amendment would also require the Secretary, through 2018, to provide person-to-person mental health screenings once during each 180-day period in which a member is deployed.
Happy holidays! We grateful for your advocacy year-round!