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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

An Update from the NCIL Mental Health Subcommittee

By Yvonne Z. Smith, Subcommittee Chair

Advocacy around mental health is becoming an even more important issue. Legislation proposed under H.R. 6180Mental Health Care for Children Inhumanely Separated from Parents by the Federal Government Act of 2018 will provide mental health services for children separated from their parents. The trauma that is created by separating children from their parents especially very young children is well documented. H.R. 6180 was introduced on June 21, 2018 in the House by Representative Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA). As of August 6, 2018 it has been referred to Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAnother bill to watch is S. 2513School Safety and Mental Health Services Improvement Act of 2018. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced S. 2513 in the Senate on March 7, 2018. S. 2513 amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow state and local educational agencies to use certain federal funds for activities related to school safety, including: (1) infrastructure improvements to prevent, mitigate, or respond to incidents of school violence; and (2) professional development for school personnel in mental-health awareness, crisis response, and other programs designed to reduce and prevent school violence.

The bill also amends the Public Health Service Act to expand the programs for which the Department of Health and Human Services may provide financial support to assist local communities in helping children deal with violence. Such programs may include those designed to provide mental health and substance-use disorder assessments, crisis-intervention training, counseling, treatment, and referral.

The community must resist any connection of persons labeled mentally ill with danger. Parents should not have to disclose the mental health conditions of their children.

Paolo del Vecchio, MSW, former Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) has been transferred out of his position. A community voice has been lost. Mr. del Vecchio, a positive resource for mental health at SAMHSA for over 20 years, gave voice to persons who were labeled with mental illness.

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