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National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery | NCMHR


Related Information

Letters Re: Murphy Bill:

To Senator Bill Nelson from Jim Probert, PhD

To Senator Lamar Alexander from Larry Drain
Mad In America article by NCMHR Executive Director Valerie L. Marsh

Call to Action - Immediate - August 31, 2016

An Urgent Push for Justice

Please call or write your representatives in the United States Senate by this Friday to share the following message:
Please support Senate Bill 2680 WITHOUT amendments or changes

Members of Congress will be returning to their DC offices next week. Hundreds of advocates from many different organizations are already contacting their representatives telling them to support mental health legislation. The Senate is receiving substantial pressure to vote on S. 2680. We must act. We must make our own voices heard. Below are links to previous Calls to Action to remind you of the details.

Here is a general overview:

HR 2646, the original Murphy Bill, passed the House last month with nearly unanimous support. But it has language in it that is still dangerous for people with lived experience, especially those who need services and supports. S. 2680, the Senate version of mental health reform, does not have the toxic language in it that is in the House bill. We must urge our senators to support S. 2680 without amendments or changes, as there will likely be attempts to insert some of the House bill’s language. Specifically:

Side by side comparison of HR 2646 and S 2680
HR 2646
S 2680
*Disempowers the one federal agency that advances recovery with new leadership in the form of an Assistant Secretary of MH & SA - requiring an MD or PhD in Psychology
Maintains the current organaizational structure - no new organizational leadership
Forced Treatment
*Expands funding for Assisted Outpatient Treatment, aka, Outpatient Commitment
Does not expand forced treatment
Disregard/disrespect for consumers/people with lived experience
*No representation of advisory or decision-making bodies
Includes representation of people with lived experience
*Uses “anosognosia” as a rationale to promote forced treatment. This is junk science. Alleging that some people are “too sick to know they are sick”
No mention of anosognosia
*Does not support recovery for MH yet supports recovery for the substance abuse community
Has recovery language throughout the bill for MH
HIPAA - confidentiality
*Provides a path to relaxing the HIPAA Law related to confidentiality via a study
Calls for better education about the existing law
Inpatient vs.correctional system false dichotomy
*Provides a false choice of increasing hospital beds OR continuing jails/homelessness - does not address the real need for communigty programs that prevent hospitalization with voluntary, consumer/peer driven services
Does not address the issue


Overall, both bills for mental health reform were a direct result of the Sandy Hook shootings. People with mental health conditions have been unfairly scapegoated, given that we comprise a mere 4% of all violence in the country.

The need for mental health reform is quite real and pressing, but it is not due to “undeserved rights.”  Since 1963, deinstitutionalization into the community has been a massive fiscal failure at both state and federal levels.  Rather than blaming the victims of poor public policy with more of the same, it is time for government to value our health care needs and our understanding of what makes actual recovery possible. Additional funding for inpatient care supports a system of care that is too late, too expensive and too coercive. A better use of public dollars would be to support actual care in the community.

The following is a link to contact information for the U.S. Senate: www.senate.gov/senators/contact

Call to Action - August 16, 2016 | The Murphy Bills

Call Members of the United States Senate
to Support Senate Bill 2680
Without Amendments from HR 2646

The Senate is being pressured to take up their mental health bill, S. 2680, sponsored by Chris Murphy and Lamar Alexander, when they return from recess in September. It is unclear whether they will consider the bill or not. It is possible they will pass mental health reform to the next Congress. However, we cannot assume they will “kick the can down the road.” We must act.

There is a significant danger that the bill will have amendments attached to it, or be changed when the conference process with the House takes place. We have every indication that members of the House, as well as House committee staff, have convinced members of the Senate that HR 2646, the original Murphy Bill, has been overhauled and is now acceptable to all stakeholders. This is far from true. We must prevent any language from HR 2646 from bleeding into the Senate bill. 

Please use this opportunity to meet with your senators or staffers while they are in their home offices. Tell them to support S. 2680 as passed by the HELP Committee, without changes from HR 2646.

If meetings are not possible, please write your senators – email or regular mail, and follow up with a phone call to discuss any questions they may have (which is basically a prompt to read your communication).

For additional info:

Mad In America article by NCMHR Executive Director Valerie L. Marsh

Coalition for Mental Health Reform

The Coalition for Mental Health Reform is made up of disability, civil, and human rights organizations working with people with psychiatric disabilities for the improvement of legislative outcomes for mental health reform.

Click to view August 4, 2016 Statement - Concerns with the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 passed in the House of Representatives July 6, 2016

Talking Points:

The following is an overview of the combined talking points. Depending on time availability, and your own confidence in education your elected representative, I suggest you choose the top 4-5 points that matter to you. Please refer to the above documents for more details:

  1. Nothing about us without us. HR 2646 excludes the voice of people who have lived experience with mental health issues in decisions that dramatically affect our lives.
  2. The bill expands grant funding and the timeframes for Assisted Outpatient Treatment. There is no evidence that AOT is more effective than voluntary care.
  3. HR 2646 significantly weakens the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
  4. HR 2646 uses “anosognosia” [pronunciation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVo2QZ29q_c] as a rationale to relax confidentiality issues and promote forced treatment. There is no scientific basis for anosognosia in mental health.
  5. The bill is hostile to programs and concepts of recovery.
  6. Increased services in the community are needed; they cannot be replaced by hospitals.

    Additional problems with HR 2646, from the viewpoint of other advocacy groups:

  7. The bill creates an additional grievance procedure within the PAIMI Act. There is no evidence has been provided that this already existing system is not working, and therefore there is no need for an additional process.
  8. HR 2646 removes an incentive for states to develop community-based services and avoid overreliance on long-term institutionalization.
  9. The Bill creates an Electronic Verification Visit (EVV) requirement for home health workers that would be harmful to individuals with disabilities, ineffective at addressing fraud and has the potential to increase state liability.
  10. HR 2646 provides $10,000,000 over a 5-year period for paraprofessional training and education programs. Given the crisis in community care, the funds should be re-directed to all states to expand a broad array of peer support services.

Concluding point: The Community Mental Health Act was passed by the 88th Congress in 1963. Instead of investing in community care, states closed beds and re-allocated the funding elsewhere. Deinstitutionalization is a fiscal failure, not an issue of "undeserved rights," that represents a discriminatory bias against people with mental health conditions. It is this fiscal failure, driven by fear and discrimination, that has placed people on the streets and in the correctional system. Additional funding for inpatient care does nothing to prevent the need for it. It only perpetuates ugly crises that wind up in the media with this flawed and discriminatory use of public dollars.

53 years after passage of the CMHA, we are still waiting for true deinstitutional-ization. How much longer must we wait?

Contact information:

The following links provide contact information for all members of Congress. Additionally, there are links to the members of the HELP Committee and Senate Finance. The members of these two committees are especially important to contact. Their support or non-support will likely decide the fate of MH reform for this Congress. Please start by contacting their home offices.


If you are willing, your member in the House of Representatives also needs to be contacted regarding HR 2646. The bill was passed by a vote of 422-2; it was overwhelmingly supported on a bipartisan basis. Contact your House rep. to discuss why they supported the bill, and why you oppose it. We must go back and try to educate the House as much as we can.
All members of the House should be contacted using the first link above, and as with the Senate, the members of the committee that worked the bill, plus the Ways and Means Committee members, are most critical to reach.


Once you have made contact with your representative(s) in Congress, please send us a message via the contact form at www.ncmhr.org/contact.htm. We’ll be tracking it via a spreadsheet, and will share updates to see which states have advocates who have contacted their reps. HOW COOL WOULD IT BE TO SEE THAT SPREADSHEET GROW!!! We’ve already got NC, RI and OR, at a minimum… Be prepared to provide the following:         

  • State
  • Member of Congress Contacted – Last name, first name
  • Staff persons contacted – last name, first name
  • Your name
  • Brief description of the outcome of your communication with them.

Questions? Of COURSE! Send them on! Happy to help people feel more comfortable with this complicated stuff. Val Marsh will visit those members of Congress FIRST with constituents at home who cared enough to talk to them.