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August 13, 2015
By: Kristine Alarcon
Edited by: Juliana Zhu, Esq.
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R., Pa.) is taking the initiative to change the mental healthcare system as it often disregards those who have serious mental health conditions and addictions. It can be underfunded and there is limited access to treatment in places such as prisons.
As a trained clinical psychologist, Murphy knows about the challenges that come with mental illness. He has even alluded to some of those challenges during his lifetime.
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, Murphy’s legislation bill, plans to build evidence-based psychosocial interventions. The bill will expand assistance for outpatient treatment as well as increase availability for and access to community mental health clinics, along with more inpatient care for crises. There will be changes in the criminal justice system aiming to reduce the nonviolent mentally ill population in prison.
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Legislation also affects the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and other existing federal laws. The changes include improving the access to information and communication between those in crisis and the family members, universities, and/or clinicians.
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act has some promising provisions, but there are still some issues that need to be resolved. The bill appears to label those with mental illness as extremely violent and dangerous. Usually, the violence associated with mental illness is suicide and individuals with serious mental illness are rarely belligerent.
There is also the issue of recruiting mental health care professionals. If there is going to be greater access for the individuals with mental illness, there needs to be more healthcare staff available for them.
The bill is still in the process of becoming law and it marks an important turning point in changing mental healthcare.
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Kristine Alarcon graduated at the University of San Francisco with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. She is working towards certification in Sterile Processing and Distribution. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.