Following Congressional progress toward providing additional resources for patients with serious mental illness, ACEP has applauded the passage of H.R. 2646 “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015” by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. ACEP President Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP, thanked Reps. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the sponsors of the legislation, and Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and ranking member Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
“This legislation is a critical step to helping the millions of people who come to emergency departments with psychiatric emergencies because of the severe shortages of mental health resources in the United States,” said Dr. Kaplan. “The nation desperately needs to establish policies and programs for individuals with serious mental illness, as well as provide sufficient resources. The nation’s emergency physicians will continue to work with Congress to enact this vital legislation.”
The legislation will help expand the mental health workforce and promote efforts to implement mental health parity in health plans. In addition, it also will create an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders and a National Mental Health Policy Lab and promote the use of telemedicine services.
Nearly 5.5 million people with psychiatric emergencies come to emergency departments each year, accounting for about 4 percent of all visits, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.