The awareness and treatment of mental health in the United States has made great strides recently, as evident by the approval of the 21st Century Cures Act by the House of Representatives and by the Senate and the pending approval by President Obama. According to Dr. T. Scott Stroup, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, there is finally in place a bill that is based on evidence and research rather than opinion or ideology. The bill provides access to treatment for individuals with psychosis, requiring 10% of states’ mental health budget be directed toward this issue. In addition, the bill states that a $5 million grant will be dedicated to community-based mental health, enabling individuals access to a 24-hour on-call professional service team. Another section of the bill requires the United States Attorney General to make mental health programs accessible to patients with severe mental illness or drug addiction. Many of these patients receive large jail sentences for minor crimes, and this program would give these people the support they need rather than keeping them behind bars with no access to mental health care. The bill also aims to clarify when physicians can share information with family members of a patient who cannot provide proper information because of his/her disability.
In the past, the United States has lacked severely in funding and programming for pertinent mental health issues. According to Dr. Maria Oquendo, the president of the American Psychiatric Association, this bill “marks the passage of the first mental health reform bill in more than 50 years and is long overdue.” From how mental illness is handled in the criminal justice system to the improvement of mental health services for children, the treatment and services provided for mental illness will continue to grow and improve from the approval of this legislation. Additionally, the strong support for this bill strengthens the need for physicians to learn more about and, if needed, utilize the resources that are currently and will become available for their patients. Lastly, the mental health programs outlined by the bill are crucial to the health and wellbeing of the citizens of the U.S.
Szabo, L. (2016). Legislation To Improve Mental Health Care For Millions Sails Through House Vote. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.