Friday, September 9, 2016

A Message from Congressman Tim Murphy & National Suicide Prevention Month

Dear friends,
In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2646 , the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, with overwhelm bipartisan support. The final vote was 422-2. As the largest mental health reform bill in 50 years, it addresses critical flaws in our nation’s broken mental health system, and focuses on providing treatment and evidence-based reform. H.R. 2646 now sits in the Senate, who returned to Washington this week without taking action on the bill. 
Click here  or on the image above to listen to
Congressman Murphy discuss suicide and mental health.
Each year, over 950 Americans die from mental illness - directly or indirectly. So this week, at every opportunity, I spoke on the House floor to discuss the immediate need for my crisis mental health reform bill. I shared the heartbreaking stories of  Allegheny College student Chuckie Mahoney , from Burgettstown, and Sgt. Daniel Somers ; I spoke about H.Res. 850 , which I introduced to designate September as National Suicide Prevention Month; and I shared the results of a recent study revealing the genetics of mental health. To watch those speeches, click here andfollow me on Twitter to get updates for when I'll speak next. 
After the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, I returned to Washington and launched an investigation into our nation's mental health system as the Chairman of Oversight and Investigations Committee. What we found was shocking and sobering: a $130 billion federal investment into a system that does little but bear witness to rising rates of suicide, homelessness, and incarcerations.

That’s why I have made mental health reform a top priority and have worked tirelessly to provide hope for our nation, because we can do better. Jail cells are not hospital beds, yet the three largest mental health institutions are county prisons. Out of every 1,000 people who suffer from a drug addiction, only six can get true treatment. With a shortage of 100,000 psychiatric beds, someone is in the middle of a severe psychotic breakdown is taken to the emergency room where they sit alone, sedated or even sometimes strapped down to a bed, monitored only occasionally by a passing nurse, waiting hours, days, even weeks, for help.

The passage of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act would signify a turning point in our nation for mental health reform, and be the light of hope for so many Americans who are effected by mental illness. Rather than ignore those who suffer, it’s time we make the decision to confront and provide treatment to those who are suffering with mental illness. 

There's a lot to understand about mental health, our current system, and my bill, H.R. 2646. As a psychologist with 40 years of experience, I sat down to try to answer some of those questions. Listen to my answers here .

I encourage you to share your thoughts about mental health and write to me by clicking here .

Where there is help, there is hope.

1. Over 950 people die each day as a direct or indirect result of mental illness. Each day we don’t act, over 950 people die, directly or indirectly, from mental illness. This is the greatest tragedy of our generation. When we look back, the embarrassment will be that the numbers were there, people were dying, and we chose not to act. 
. Our nation spends $130 billion dollars each year on reforms that don’t work. 

After the 2012 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, as Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Committee, Congressman Murphy returned to Washington and launched an investigation into our nation’s broken mental health system. What he found was a $130 billion investment into over 100 federal programs that haven’t even met since 2009. In fact, since the creation of these programs, the rates of suicide, homelessness, and incarcerations have all increased in the U.S. 

3. The largest mental health “hospitals” are county prisons 

It’s true that our country went through a period where those who were mentally ill were treated inhumanely. When the U.S. changed the way the mentally ill were treated, however, we didn’t solve the problem. We traded those hospital beds for jail cells. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 25 and 40 percent of all mentally ill Americans will be jailed or incarcerated at some point in their lives. 

4. The United States has a shortage of 100,000 psychiatric beds 

If you break your arm, or someone you love is having a heart attack, you know to call 911 to get an ambulance the emergency room (ER) where you or your loved one will receive immediate treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU). Those with mental illnesses need this emergency care too. Psychiatric beds are the ICU for those who are in immediate need of assistance in that they present danger to themselves or others. Instead, they are taken to the ER where they sit in a room, sedated or even sometimes strapped down to a bed, monitored only occasionally by a passing nurse. If we treat those who suffer from heart attacks or injuries with trained professionals and the best care, why shouldn’t we ensure the same for those who are mentally ill?
5. Our nation prioritizes the right be sick over the right to be well. 

From the way we treat mental illness, our country has decided that the right to be sick is more important than the right to be well. HIPAA privacy laws, once designed to protect personal medical records from insurance companies, now prevent worried family members from knowing the medication their loved ones take and even their whereabouts when they may be in the middle of a psychotic break. Instead, family members are kept out of the loop – until they are notified of the death of their son, daughter, sister, brother, wife, husband, mother, or father. 
To learn more about H.R. 2646 and how it addresses these problems, click here . 
Let's get it straight: Q&A with Congressman Murphy 

Congressman Murphy has made reforming our nation’s broken mental health care system one of his top priorities in Congress. As a psychologist, he brings 40 years of experience, expertise, and knowledge of the psychology and psychiatry fields to Washington. There’s a lot to know, so we want to provide you with some answers from Dr. Murphy himself about mental health in America and the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. Click here or the image below to watch the full interview, or watch each Congressman's answers to the questions below.
To watch the Q&A with Congressman Murphy, click here .
Q. What is a “mental illness”? Is there a difference between that and a “serious mental illness”?  
A: Find out here .
What’s the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist? 
A: Find out here .

Q. How many psychologists and psychiatrists does our nation have? 
A: Find out here .

Q. Can families help their loved one who suffers from a mental illness? How? 
A: Find out here .

Q. I keep hearing about the need for more psychiatric beds, but I don’t know what that means… Can you explain? 
A: Find out here .

Q. So what is H.R. 2646 – the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act? 
A: Find out here .

Q. I know the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.2646, but what happens now? Is it a law? 
A: Find out here .

Do you have a question for Congressman Murphy about mental health? Ask him here . 

Did you know? September is Suicide Awareness Month 
Each year, nearly 43,000 Americans die by suicide. 
Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here .
It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S and the 11th leading cause In Pennsylvania. September is Suicide Awareness Month and we want to provide you with some helpful tools and resources to learn more about depression, suicide, and where you or a loved one can get help.  

Click here for a list of local Pennsylvania events hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

If you’re having thoughts about suicide, or are concerned for a love one, find support here 

To help spread awareness about suicide in America, or to get involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, click here .

Coming up next… 
As the Senate considers the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, you can follow Congressman Murphy on Facebook andTwitter for timely updates about H.R. 2646 and his work in Congress. 

We encourage you to write to us and share your thoughts about mental health reform and the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act by clicking here