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Blunt co-sponsors bills to aid screening, treatment for mental illness
Blunt co-sponsors bills to aid screening, treatment for mental illness

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 7, 2013) — In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri announced today that he is co-sponsoring several bipartisan bills in an effort to spend federal dollars more wisely when it comes to treating and identifying people who are mentally ill.

“Millions of people suffer from diagnosable mental disorders across America. But too often, we neglect or miss the warning signs of an individual suffering from a mental health crisis, and we fail to help them in their time of need,” said Blunt.

· Blunt joined U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan in introducing the “Excellence in Mental Health Act,” a bipartisan bill intended to address our nation’s fragmented mental health system by offering current Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) a chance to obtain the Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Center (FQCBHC) designation. The legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Susan Collins of Maine, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Barbara Boxer of California.

· In addition, Blunt is a co-sponsor of the “Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013,” which was introduced by U.S. Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and cosponsored by six of their colleagues. The bill authorizes the launch of a demonstration program to support mental health first aid trainings nationwide in order to help individuals to identify, understand, and respond to the signs of mental illnesses and addiction disorders.

· Blunt is also a co-sponsor of the “Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act,” which was introduced by U.S. Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Mike Johanns of Nebraska and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 14 of their colleagues in the Senate and 10 members in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill will help make communities safer by improving access to mental health services for people in the criminal justice system who need treatment. The bill also focuses on giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to identify and respond to mental health issues, and includes a five-year reauthorization of the “Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act” (MIOTCRA), continuing support for mental health courts, and crisis intervention teams.

“I believe we need to have a national discussion about improving the ways in which we treat and identify people who are mentally ill so we can try to intervene before someone does something that tragically impacts their lives and the lives of others,” Blunt continued. “That discussion should include looking for ways to spend federal dollars more wisely when it comes to mental illness, and these bills are a step in the right direction.”

To view Blunt’s op-ed on mental health in the Kansas City Star, please click this link.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt serves as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He currently serves as Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and also serves as co-chair of the Missouri River Working Group along with U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri and John Hoeven and Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

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