Violent tragedies like the mass stabbing at Franklin Regional High School in April have prompted a much-needed public discussion about our country’s mental health system and how we can better help those with mental health conditions.
As CEO of a behavioral health hospital for children and adolescents, I face the challenges of the limitations of our mental health care system every day. And while I’m proud of the work we do to help kids and families, far too many children — and adults — still don’t receive the care they need when they need it most.
That’s why I fully support the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act proposed by U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, which provides for comprehensive reforms to our mental health system.
Among its provisions are changes to often-misunderstood privacy laws that would allow mental health professionals to give parents and caregivers critical information about the condition of a loved one to help protect his or her health and safety. The bill also encourages states to adopt a “need for treatment” standard — rather than the current “imminent danger” standard in states like Pennsylvania — to ensure needed care is received before tragedy strikes.
Further, the legislation reforms Medicaid payment rules to encourage an increase in adult psychiatric beds; supports the adoption of evidence-based care; and re-authorizes important funding for suicide prevention programs, among other provisions.
I believe this act would improve mental health care in our country and help prevent acts of violence, and I urge Congress to support its passage.
Chief Executive Officer
Southwood Psychiatric Hospital
Upper St. Clair