Legislator pushes for mental health system reform

A budget amendment has been approved that sets the stage for a comprehensive reform of the nation’s mental health system. U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut was the amendment’s co-sponsor.

Murphy, a first-term Democrat, has been working with Republican U.S. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana to develop major, bipartisan mental health legislation that they will introduce later this year.

“Mental health care in America is in desperate need of an overhaul,” Murphy said. “Children and adults struggling with mental illness may bounce from professional to professional without an accurate diagnosis for years, ultimately suffering in isolation, or be cast aside as a result of their mental health condition and abandoned by the system.

“Too often,” he continued, “individuals with mental illness who are capable of living healthy, productive lives instead end up homeless or in prison due to lack of adequate care. Thankfully, a growing chorus of both Democrats and Republicans is saying enough is enough.”

Bipartisan approach

The Senate unanimously approved the Murphy-Cassidy budget amendment related to mental health issues.

Murphy said he finds the bipartisanship approach on the matter “encouraging and exciting. I am eager to continue improving mental health care for Americans alongside Republicans ... This is a problem we can solve, and I won’t stop working until we do.”

More than 11 million people struggle with mental illness and many don’t have access to proper treatment, according to Cassidy. He said there is a shortage of mental health professionals.

Murphy is a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Both he and Cassidy previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives.