Mental illness does not discriminate based on age, class or ethnicity. It affects all segments of society. More than 11 million Americans have severe schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression yet millions are going without treatment as families struggle to find care for loved ones. To understand why so many go without treatment, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations launched a top to bottom review of the country’s mental health system beginning in January 2013. The investigation revealed that the approach by the federal government to mental health is a chaotic patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies across numerous agencies.
Not only is this frustrating for families in need of medical care, but when left untreated, those with mental illness often end up in the criminal justice system or on the streets. The mentally ill are no more violent than anyone else, and in fact are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators, but individuals with untreated serious mental illness are at an increased risk of violent behavior. Tragically, undertreated mental illness has been linked to homicides, assaults, and suicides.
The Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act bill, H.R. 3717, fixes the nation’s broken mental health system by focusing programs and resources on psychiatric care for patients and families most in need of services.