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National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery | NCMHR

Advocates Reject Revised “Murphy Bill” as Still Harmful to Individuals with Mental Health Conditions

WASHINGTON (June 10, 2016)—As the House Energy and Commerce Committee announces that it will mark up the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) next week, mental health advocates are ramping up efforts to educate legislators on the bill’s serious problems, despite revisions that have been made to attract bipartisan support.

“Despite significant changes, the bill still does not reflect the voices or meet the needs of millions of Americans with mental health conditions,” said Val Marsh, MSW, executive director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), which represents people diagnosed with mental health conditions and their organizations. “It would wreak havoc on our civil rights and write into law a manufactured justification for forced treatment.” Marsh is referring to the controversial concept of “anosognosia,” defined as the inability to understand that one is “sick.”

H.R. 2646, introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Rep. Bernice Johnson (D-TX), has been contentious since its original introduction, in 2013, as H.R. 3717. The original bill has been revised but is still problematic, advocates say.

“The crisis in mental health care is a problem of grossly inadequate resources that are poorly allocated,” Marsh continued.  “What is needed are community-based services, driven by the needs and wishes of individuals with mental health conditions.”

Marsh listed a variety of problems with the revised bill. (click for a detailed analysis) For example, H.R. 2646:

  • Continues to weaken the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration by creation of unnecessary oversight by an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health. SAMHSA has been indispensable in supporting the recovery of individuals with mental health conditions.
  • Would violate civil rights by authorizing new funding for assisted outpatient treatment, despite the lack of evidence that mandated outpatient treatment is effective.
  • Would expand Medicaid funding for institutions, rather than putting the money into evidence-based services in the community, as has been mandated by the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.

“Sensationalized media coverage has fueled arguments for forced treatment and a reliance on institutional care,” Marsh concluded.  “We know that recovery is possible and we know what works because we are the evidence.”

Contact: Val Marsh, Executive Director, via the NCMHR contact form