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Passage of mental health bill lauded by local NAMI officials
by Craig Bennett Iron County Today
Dec 30, 2016 | 2110 views | 0 0 comments | 70 70 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Dec. 1, House Resolution 34 was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a stunning vote of 392 to 26. The Mental Health Reform bill is widely referred to as the 21st Centure Cures Act.

Wayne Conners, with the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) SW, said the passage was both unexpected by such a large margin, and long overdue.

“Many, many people involved in the world are living with mental illness,” he told Iron County Today. “It is a big bill and has a lot of meaningful parts: Title VI - Leadership; Oversite and accountability; Title VII -ensuring Mental Health and Substance abuse Disorder Prevention, Treatment and Recovery programs keep pace with Science and Technology. Title VIII -Supporting State prevention activities and responses of mental health and substance use disorders needs. Title IX Promoting access to mental health and substance use disorder care, (includes helping individuals and families).

Connors went on to say the bill also strengthens the health care workforce-grants to support recruitment and education of mental health care providers, psychiatry, social work, psychology. Title X - Strengthening Disorder Care for women, children and adolescents. Title XI -Compassionate Communication on HIPPA. Title XII - Medicaid Mental Health Coverage. Title VIII - Mental health parity. Title XIV - Mental Health and safe Communities; AOT (assisted Outpatient Treatment Programs)-court ordered outpatient treatment programs to prevent the escalation of mental health crises and substance abuse. It deals with alternatives to incarceration programs. (60 percent of all incarcerated personnel have some form of severe mental illness).

“This bill also supports mental health and suicide education, prevention and awareness in school and college for both students and the teachers,” Connors said. “St George has a very successful Mental Health Court and graduates many people whom would have spent a lot of time in jail without Outpatient Assistance Treatment program.”

How big a problem is mental illness? According to a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Utah has the highest rate of mental illness in the nation, with 22.4 percent of the adult population in Utah reporting experiencing a mental disorder in the past year. Out of that group, 5.14 percent had a severe mental disorder that interfered with their daily activities.

Of the 92,400 adults surveyed, the study reported that 18.2 percent of respondents stated they have experienced a mental illness in the past year. If this percentage is applied to the U.S. population, that would be approximately 42.5 million people. Four percent responded as having severe mental illness, which would correlate to approximately 9.3 million people.

The presence of “Severe Mental Illness” and “Any Mental Illness” in every state reinforces that mental illness is a major public health concern in the United States. Researchers involved in the study wrote; “Factors that potentially contribute to the variation are not well understood and need further study.”

The bill also authorizes $1.6 billion for the Brain Research through Advancing Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, an effort to understand brain conditions, and $1.6 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, and also requires the FDA to include patient experience in regulatory decisions.

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