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National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery | NCMHR

Mission: The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) will ensure that consumer/survivors have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, and social policies at the state and national levels, empowering people to recover and lead a full life in the community.

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Wake Up to the Real Danger of the Murphy Bill

By Daniel Fisher, President National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery

Wake up advocates before it is too late. Representatives Murphy/Johnson’s bill, Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) is a much greater threat than you realize. This bill is a direct attack on the core values of our mental health recovery movement of empowerment and community integration by its emphasis on coercion and institutionalization. It is an attack on all the work we advocates have done over 40 years as far as recovery, deinstitutionalization, and rights for persons labeled with mental illness. Its intent is to extinguish our vision of recovery.

This proposed legislation robs people of hope because it is based on a false belief that people never recover, and must be controlled and maintained in the same psychiatric institutions from which people have gradually been freed. This is not evidence-based legislation. It is a denial of the evidence that when provided voluntary community supports, people recover from even the most severe conditions. Every element of the legislation is disempowering and attacks our values of recovery by: its intent to expand outpatient and inpatient commitment, its loosening of confidentiality, its expansion of payments for institutional care at the expense of community care, its call to dismantle SAMHSA, the agency that has carried out the New Freedom Commission (NFC) for Mental Health’s call for recovery-oriented systems, and its curtailing of the capacity of the Protection and Advocacy organizations’ capacity to promote system change, while providing no new money for mental health services.

Some supporters of the bill are saying we have to rebuild asylums to prevent incarceration in jails and prisons. But we cannot financially, legally, or morally afford to rebuild asylums. The Supreme Court’s Olmstead Decision and the ADA upon which it is based have stated that people should not be institutionalized if they are capable of living in the community. But we need legislation that creatively expands the opportunities, and funding for voluntary, community-based alternatives to coercive institutions such as:

  • Reforming of Medicaid and Medicare, so they can fund recovery and community integration rather than simply medication & symptom reduction
  • Enabling Medicaid funding of economical peer-run respite care, crisis stabilization, and cooperative apartments rather than nursing homes and hospitals
  • Expanding of housing first programs and new housing subsidies to alleviate the dead end of homelessness.
  • Expanding of cost-effective, consumer-run recovery centers and technical assistance centers to support them
  • Expanding training and hiring of peers into all organizational levels of the system
  • Expanding training and support for persons with lived experience to be meaningfully involved in policy and evaluation
  • Developing promising clinical approaches, such as Open Dialogue, that reduce over dependence on medication
  • Strengthening the P and A’s so they can ensure that the potential of the Olmstead Decision is fulfilled 

The most ominous aspect of this Murphy legislation is its intent to silence the voice of persons with lived experience in the formation of its provisions and in future policy development. The disability world in general and mental health world in particular has had a long history of highlighting the centrality of the voice of consumers in policy formation. This principle is formalized in the regulations concerning the expenditure of Mental Health Block grant funds. In addition, the NFC report concluded that the transformation of the mental health system should be consumer- and family-driven. In contrast, the Murphy bill calls for the new advisory body to the Assistant Secretary of MH and SUD to consist of mainly of clinicians with a lone spot for a person with lived experience, but he/she had to have received mental health services in the last two years.   

Rather than further amending this fatally flawed proposed legislation, I recommend it be stopped and the drafting begin anew with the 115th Congress. Congress could use the example of the disability community in its drafting of the ADA. There was true involvement of leaders with disabilities and it was bipartisan. We need to pressure Congress to accept the theme of our movement and every civil rights movement: “Nothing about us without us.”  Congress needs to realize that the only truly evidence-based system is one that is based on our voice and experience, because “We are the evidence that people recover.”

Wake up and contact your Congressperson, and let them know that Rep. Tim Murphy’s Bill, HR 2646, is dangerous to recovery and should not progress any further. As Justin Dart said, “Fight as if your life depends upon it because it does.”

Connect with Dan Fisher via our Contact Form; or call NCMHR at 877-246-9058 (Toll Free)

Mental Health Advocates Oppose Rep. Tim Murphy's Bill for Promoting Forced "Treatment"
Over More Effective and Less Expensive Voluntary Care

The new bill would also dismantle SAMHSA, the federal mental health authority

On June 4th, 2015, Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania re-introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, also known as H.R. 2646. The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery opposes this bill because it includes many harmful provisions that will set back community mental health care and undermine much of what our movement has worked so hard to achieve.

H.R. 2646, will:

  • Increase the use of forced treatment and hospitalization at the expense of voluntary, pro-active, community mental health services and supports.
  • Divert millions of Medicaid dollars from community services and supports to increase hospitalization.
  • Deny mental health block grants to states without involuntary outpatient commitment laws.
  • Prescribe the qualifications for certified peer support specialists in law, an unprecedented step that will ossify our discipline.
  • Eliminate the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA has promoted and funded major innovations such as peer support, recovery, wellness, trauma-informed care, state consumer and family networks and Alternatives.
  • Drastically cut grants that fund critical mental health services, substance abuse prevention and substance abuse treatment across the Nation.
  • Eliminate many innovative mental health services grants, put doctors in control of grant review and exclude knowledgeable people with lived experience from grant review and oversight.
  • Give Congress unprecedented control over all competitive grant awards.
  • Amend HIPAA to erode privacy rights for people with a mental health diagnosis; what is needed instead is better education on how HIPAA works.
  • Eliminate all protection and advocacy agency programs that protect our civil rights in housing, employment, education and other areas.

Please tell your member of Congress that you oppose H.R. 2646 (include your most important reason) and ask them not to support this bill.

Click on your state name below to contact your represenatives:

[Alabama], [Alaska], [American Samoa], [Arizona], [Arkansas], [California], [Colorado], [Connecticut], [Delaware], [District of Columbia], [Florida], [Georgia], [Guam], [Hawaii], [Idaho], [Illinois], [Indiana], [Iowa], [Kansas], [Kentucky], [Louisiana], [Maine], [Maryland], [Massachusetts], [Michigan], [Minnesota], [Mississippi], [Missouri], [Montana], [Nebraska], [Nevada], [New Hampshire], [New Jersey], [New Mexico], [New York], [North Carolina], [North Dakota], [Northern Mariana Islands], [Ohio], [Oklahoma], [Oregon], [Pennsylvania], [Puerto Rico], [Rhode Island], [South Carolina], [South Dakota], [Tennessee], [Texas], [Utah], [Vermont], [Virginia], [Virgin Islands], [Washington], [West Virginia], [Wisconsin], [Wyoming]

View a video of a Hearing on the Murphy Bill held on June 16, 2015 titled "Examining HR-2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis"

Related articles and links:



Dorothy Dundas Receives 2014 Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award

Dan Fisher presents the Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award to Dorothy Dundas

Every year, NCMHR chooses an exceptional leader in mental health advocacy to receive the Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award. 

Dorothy Dundas has been a part of the Consumer/Survivor/Ex-patient (C/S/X) movement since the late 1970's and has been a tireless advocate for civil rights and humane, voluntary, and peer-led services ever since.

Dorothy was one of a few electroshock survivors who testified at the January 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration public hearings on electroconvulsive therapy, leading to the FDA panel’s decision to require rigorous testing of the device used for electroshock.

Her story appears in “Beyond Bedlam,” her op-eds and letters have been published in many newspapers, and her revolutionary poster, “Behind Locked Doors“ is used to educate students and the general public about the abuses that have happened under the guise of mental health “treatment.”

It is with gratitude for her work that NCMHR honors Ms. Dundas with the 2014 Judi Chamberlin Joy in Advocacy Award.

NCMHR Visionary C/S/X Leadership Conference - Audio Recording Now Available!

Another lively and inspiring discussion took place this year, featuring Daniel Fisher, Susan Rogers and Wilma Townsend, and moderated by Keris Myrick. If you missed this annual NCMHR event, please click here to access the audio of the presentations.

Mental Health Advocates Oppose Rep. Tim Murphy's Bill for Promoting Forced "Treatment" Over More Effective and Less Expensive Voluntary Care

The new bill would also dismantle SAMHSA, the federal mental health authority

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015 — On June 4, Congressman Tim Murphy introduced legislation (HR 2646) designed to dismantle the federal mental health authority – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – which has successfully promoted recovery and community inclusion for individuals with serious behavioral health conditions for 25 years, as called for by President Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. The bill would replace SAMHSA with a new Office headed by a politically appointed government official, controlled by Congress and robbing people of their civil rights through forced treatment and increased institutionalization. View Full Press Release

Recovery Now!

The Recovery Now! Campaign advances innovative strategies to improve the quality of mental health care, promoting recovery for all Americans affected by mental health conditions. Learn more and join the campaign today!


Advocates Launch Campaign to Advance Recovery-Focused Mental Health Care

As House and Senate Democrats and Republicans focus on comprehensive mental health reform, and a recent poll by the Kennedy Center for Mental Health Policy and Research indicated that 71% of Americans are calling for “significant “ or “radical” changes in the way that mental illnesses and addiction are treated, leading mental health experts and advocacy groups have announced the formation of the Recovery Now! Campaign. The campaign has been created to address the crisis in our mental health service system and the personal crises faced daily by individuals and families in great distress. Click here to read the campaign launch announcement.

2015 Public Policy Priorities

Our 2015 public policy priorities focus on advocating for a recovery-focused mental health system that prevents crisis, protects rights, and promotes wellness, economic empowerment, and social inclusion. Click here to view our public policy priorities.

GAO Report on Health and Human Services Leadership Misleading, Incomplete

In 2014, Representative Tim Murphy (PA-18) engaged the GAO to enumerate the programs the Administration funds to assist persons with severe mental illness, to determine the degree to which these programs are coordinated, and to assess the evaluations done on the programs. The GAO identified over a hundred federal programs, but comes to misleading conclusions in its report. Read the GAO report and our position statement (PDF, 120KB, 1 page).

Editorial: Does the scientific evidence support the recovery model?

One of the most robust findings in schizophrenia research is that a substantial proportion of those with the illness will recover completely and many more will regain good social functioning. Click here to read the entire editorial. (PDF, 74KB, 6 pages)

For docs, more biology info means less empathy for mental health patients

New Yale study challenges the notion that biological explanations for mental illness boost compassion for the tens of millions of Americans who suffer from mental-health problems. Click here to read the findings | Effects of biological explanations for mental disorders on clinicians’ empathy by Matthew S. Lebowitz1 and Woo-kyoung Ahn (PDF, 637KB, 5 pages)

New Research Briefs

NCMHR has compiled lists of references and citations to support legislative advocacy and public education efforts.

To access research and citations on Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), also known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), click here (PDF, 157KB, 5 pages).

To access research and citations documenting the weak link between mental health diagnoses and violence, click here (PDF, 156KB, 5 pages).

To access research on the evidence base for peer support and recovery-oriented approaches to distress and crisis, click here (PDF, 208KB, 13 pages).

New!Involuntary Outpatient Commitment: What the Evidence Really Says

Under Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), a person with a serious mental health condition is mandated by a court to follow a specific treatment plan, usually requiring the person to take medication and sometimes directing where the person can live and what his or her daily activities must include. Proponents of IOC claim that it is effective in reducing violent behavior, incarcerations, and hospitalizations among individuals with serious mental health conditions. However, repeated studies have shown no evidence that mandating outpatient treatment through a court order is effective; to the limited extent that court-ordered outpatient treatment has shown improved outcomes, these outcomes appear to result from the intensive services that have been made available to participants in those clinical trials rather than from the existence of a court order mandating treatment.

Involuntary Outpatient Commitment: What the Evidence Really Says (PDF, 152KB, 4 pages)

Mental Health Advocates Blast Rep. Tim Murphy's Bill as a Costly Step Backward, to the Days When a Mental Illness Diagnosis Was a Life Sentence

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Congressman Tim Murphy introduced legislation that, if passed, would reverse some of the advances of the last 30 years in mental health services and supports. It would exchange low-cost services that have good outcomes for higher-cost yet ineffective interventions, according to the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 32 statewide organizations and others representing individuals with mental illnesses; the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the non-profit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities; and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a national non-profit legal advocacy organization. Click here to read the entire press release.

The Coalition received start-up funding from the Washington-based Public Welfare Foundation. The Coalition office is located at 611 Pennsylvania Ave. SE #133 Washington, D. C. 20003.

For additional information, call 877-246-9058 (Toll Free), or send email via our contact form.