One in five Minnesotans battle mental illness each year, and for too long the need for care has greatly outpaced its availability. Mental health care is a lifesaving necessity, not a luxury. In Congress, we have led the effort to make mental health care services accessible to all.

Last month, the House passed the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act. I spoke on the House Floor in support of this bill, which contains provisions from two of my mental health initiatives. These include a part of the Due Process Continuity of Care Act allowing juvenile detainees to continue receiving existing Medicaid-funded mental health care while awaiting trial.

This legislation also includes a version of the Behavioral Health Coordination and Communication Act, which creates an office within the Department of Health and Human Services to streamline behavioral health crisis intervention. The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act now awaits action in the Senate, where hopefully this bipartisan bill can chart a course to the President’s desk.  

While this bill helps bridge the gap in mental health services, our work is not done. Recently, we introduced the bipartisan Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act. This legislation will reauthorize the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP), an important program that allows states and localities to develop programming that connects those with mental illness and substance abuse issues with evidence-based, comprehensive treatment within the criminal justice system.

We are also leading the charge to improve access to mental health care facilities. The Securing Facilities for Mental Health Act will eliminate provisions of the National Housing Act that prohibit inpatient psychiatric hospitals from applying for mortgage assistance. Currently, inpatient psychiatric hospitals are the only type of hospitals restricted from accessing mortgage assistance programs. This provision has prevented the construction of new mental health facilities and, in part, led to the national shortage of mental health facilities.

Ending the stigma around mental illness requires open conversation and access to quality care. For those experiencing a mental health crisis, even small barriers to treatment can be life-threatening.  I remain committed to ending the stigma around mental health treatment and working to improve access to quality mental health treatment for every American.

If you are struggling, you may want to visit the State of Minnesota’s suicide prevention program website or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline now to get help by phone at 9-8-8, toll-free in the U.S. 24 hours a day.