WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jack Reed recently introduced legislation known as the “Excellence in Mental Health Act,” to build and expand community mental-health centers and help pay for the counseling and other services provided by these centers.
The bipartisan bill, co-authored by Reed, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., was introduced at a press conference that featured David O. Russell, the director of the movie, “Silver Livings Playbook.”
“Too often the stigma of mental illness prevents individuals from seeking diagnosis and treatment,” said Reed at the news conference. “Thankfully, we are making strides in meeting this challenge, but we must ensure those who need treatment have access to it.”
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, community mental-health centers currently serve more than 8 million people, including 2.2 million young people. With at least 25 percent of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan experiencing some type of mental-health condition, these centers are expected to soon be serving 200,000 veterans.
“We must continue working to remove the stigma from mental illness in our society and expand care for those living with mental illness who need it,” Russell said. “We talk about diabetes; we talk about heart disease, so why can’t we talk about mental illness in a regular way?” •