Two days ago, Rep. Tim Murphy released a sweeping, but regressive bill to “fix the broken mental health system.” He tellingly named it the “helping families in mental health crisis act.” It is House Resolution 3717. Provisions in his bill promote coercive treatment, weaken rights protections and terminate grants for recovery programs. (Read more below.)
Immediate action is needed to limit the number of co-sponsors of Murphy’s bill
It is critical to call all members of the House of Representatives now with a short message: “Do not cosponsor H.R. 3717, (Rep. Murphy’s mental health bill) it is bad for your constituents”. Numbers are what counts here; we need the calls now because Murphy is quickly adding cosponsors. You can send a longer letter later; get your message to the staff now so they will think about the issue before making a decision to cosponsor or support.
Take Action: Please pass this message on to your friends and community immediately. Then, make a call on Monday (Dec. 16) or Tuesday, (Dec. 17) to your Representative:
· To find your representative go to http://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup. Enter your address/zipcode. Click the name of your Representative, and look for the phone number of the DC office. You may have to scroll down.
· When you call, tell the person answering the phone: “I live in Representative (name)’s district. He (or she) should NOT cosponsor HR 3717 (Rep. Tim Murphy’s mental health bill) because it is bad for constituents. This bill promotes coercive treatment, increases stigma, weakens protections for vulnerable people, and terminates critical mental health programs that help people recover from serious mental illness.”
· Ask the person that answers the phone to give your message to the staff member that handles health issues for the Representative.
Be sure to make the call Monday or Tuesday!
Problems with Murphy’s bill
This bill would push involuntary outpatient commitment on states, promote sweeping commitment criteria, defund mental health recovery programs, gut protection and advocacy programs, and remove privacy protections. States would have to have tough commitment laws to receive their mental health block grant allocation.
Worse yet, mixed in with these controversial provisions are items that many Senators and mental health organizations are trying to pass this year, including re-authorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Act, better funding for mental health centers that provide comprehensive services (including peer support), more money for children’s mental health, etc. It will be tempting for members of the House to sign on to show they are doing something about mental health needs. We need to act now to warn them his bill is not the answer.