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Congress Is on the Verge of Passing a Landmark Mental Health Bill

From Fortune.com, by Sy Mukherjee

The legislation passed the House in a near-unanimous vote.

Soon after the 2012 massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn., advocacy groups called for nationwide reforms on two major issues: gun violence prevention and mental health care.

While progress on the former remains elusive in a sharply divided Congress, lawmakers took a major step this week toward passing a landmark overhaul of the American mental health care system that seeks to bolster treatment for people with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act in a nearly unanimous vote (422-2). The legislation—which aims to increase the availability of psychiatric hospital beds, establish a new assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and boost treatment for young mental health patients, among other provisions—was originally introduced shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy by Republican Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and will head to President Obama’s desk if the Senate passes its own version of the bill.


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