Our country has been shaken by senseless tragedies recently in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. My heart breaks for the families who have lost loved ones at the hands of sick individuals and something must be done to prevent this from happening again.
When President Trump addressed the nation after the tragedies, he said “we must seek real, bipartisan solutions that will truly make America safer and better for all.” I could not agree more. But I don’t think infringing on Americans’ Second Amendment rights is a part of that solution. The best path forward is addressing the mental health crisis we are facing and stopping violence before it happens.
Congress has a history of coming together to address the mental health crisis in a bipartisan way. The 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law in 2016, made the most significant changes to our country’s mental health system in more than a decade. The law improved mental health care for children with serious emotional disturbances, strengthened crisis response systems in communities, and developed school-based mental health crisis intervention teams.
Even though this legislation was a big step in addressing the mental health crisis, there is still more to be done. I have fought for mental health reforms since coming to Congress and I remain committed to improving and expanding access to mental health treatment.
Whether a person is struggling with a substance use disorder or any other mental health issue, it’s important to see the full picture to be able to provide the resources and treatment a person needs. My bill, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, would help give a physician the ability to know when a patient needs more than just physical treatment.
Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), which were originally created in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, have been proven to help those with mental illness get access to the treatment they need. Grand Lake Mental Health Center, which is a part of the demonstration, has seen a 95 percent reduction in inpatient psychiatric admissions in its 7-county service area. In 2015, before the program began, there were 1,115 inpatient psychiatric admissions in the Grand Lake Mental Health Center service area. In 2018, there were only 15 admissions because patients are getting the treatment they need. My bill will extend funding for this critical program for two years and expand it to more states.
It’s time for all of us to work together to address the mental health crisis in our country and stop violence before it happens.