By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, July 6, US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said that HR2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, which passed the House on Wednesday marks the first reforms of our mental health programs in decades. Congressman Byrne is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
Congressman Byrne said: “Instead of pushing new gun laws, I have always said the focus should be on the root causes of mass violence, like our broken mental health system. This bill does just that in a truly bipartisan way that unites Republicans and Democrats instead of driving us further apart.”
Rep. Byrne said, “This bill helps ensure that our mental health programs actually work and that the money is getting to the patients who need it most instead of getting stuck in bureaucracy. Most importantly, this bill makes clear that mental illness is not a crime but rather a true health issue that should be treated. This bill has the potential to make a real difference and passing it out of the House with such strong support is a major accomplishment.”
Rep. Byrne’s grandfather, William Langsdale, was shot to death on his front porch by a mentally ill neighbor. Rep. Byrne has been a strong advocate for reforming our nation’s mental health system.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) agreed, “Today, the House took a major step to change the way our nation’s health care system deals with mental illness. We need to make sure that the people who suffer from mental illness—just like any other patients—get the care and medications they need. HR2646 does just that. This is good, bipartisan legislation, and I applaud Rep. Murphy for his years of leadership and dedication to this cause.”
The bill’s sponsor Rep. Tim Murphy, PhD (R-Pennsylvania) wrote, “More than 11 million Americans have severe schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression yet millions are going without treatment and families struggle to find care for loved ones. The federal government’s approach to mental health has been a chaotic patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies across numerous agencies. Sadly, patients end up in the criminal justice system or on the streets because services are not available. The Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act fixes the nation’s broken mental health system by focusing programs and resources on psychiatric care for patients & families most in need of services.”
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act passed by a vote of 422 to 2.