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

An Update from the NCIL Mental Health Task Force

NCIL’s Mental Health Civil Rights Task Force continues to follow two significant pieces of federal mental health legislation. As you may recall, Rep. Tim Murphy introduced H.R. 3717, “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013” in December of last year. This bill would reauthorize the SAMHSA programs without the reforms NCIL supports. It also singles out people who are “disabled” (but not dangerous) for involuntary treatment. The bill also cuts support for advocacy and mental health peer support. NCIL opposes H.R. 3717 and other bills that single out people for reduced rights based on disability.

Recently, Rep. Ron Barber introduced H.R. 4574, the “Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014”. This bill reauthorizes SAMHSA programs but without the reforms NCIL supports. These reforms are:

  • a majority of consumers on state mental health planning and advisory councils (which are required to review and comment on state community mental health block grant – MHBG plans)
  • that each state provide for consumer peer support organizations and / or consumer-run community mental health services in its MHBG plan; and
  • that state mental health planning and advisory councils coordinate activities with Statewide Independent Living Councils under section 705 of the Rehabilitation Act.

NCIL supports H.R. 4574. We urge Representatives to support amendment of the bill with the reforms discussed above. To that end, we are beginning to work on crafting alternate legislation to bring forward during the next Congress in 2015.

The NCIL Mental Health Civil Rights Task Force also maintains an active presence on Facebook – join us on our Mentally Healthy Independent Living page. Task Force meetings are held via teleconference and usually take place on the first Thursday of the month at 3:00 Eastern. The next meeting will be on Thursday, 2 October. Please contact Task Force Co-Chair Krista Erickson at krista@kristaerickson.net for further information. The Task Force extends its thanks to Mike Bachhuber, Co-Chair of NCIL’s Civil Rights / ADA Subcommittee for contributing much of the above material.

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