Congress on verge of boon for families’ mental health
A house divided. That’s been the story of Congress for some time, with sharp splits along philosophical and political lines. But Congress now has an opportunity to come together on bipartisan bills designed to improve the mental health of all Americans, starting with the youngest. The need has never been more urgent, as children – many of them very young – witness traumatic events that have occurred recently in cities like Minneapolis, Dallas and Baton Rouge.
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, introduced by Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), passed the House last week. Similar legislation, stalled just short of the Senate floor, deserves wide support when the Senate takes it up—which it should do straightaway. The House bill asserts that the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness must be a national priority, with a robust system designed to move those affected from despair to hope. While the bill largely focuses on older people with serious problems, it includes landmark provisions affirming that babies’ mental health matters. A new infant-early childhood provision would support prevention, intervention and treatment programs for very young children, helping them on a path toward a lifetime of mental wellness.