Mental Health First Aid Act introduced in House

Mental Health First Aid Act introduced in House

Rep. Lynn Jenkins

U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced the Mental Health First Aid Act on Thursday. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, would increase access to mental health first aid training to assist the public in identifying, understanding and interacting with mental health patients and disorders.

“Teachers, first-responders, law enforcement officers, veterans and many other public servants are often on the front lines of persons living with mental illness,” Jenkins said. “Until recently, these individuals had little or no training on how to adequately respond to mental health crises, but the Mental Health First Aid education program is helping train the public to identify, understand and support someone suffering from mental health. Mental Health First Aid is making a real difference in our communities, and this legislation will ensure that more Americans have access to mental health resources – including our veterans – and that more communities have the tools needed to help those struggling with mental illness.”

“Mental health has been ignored in our country for far too long,” Matsui said. “We must increase mental health awareness and knowledge, and decrease stigma. The Mental Health First Aid Act is an important step toward ensuring that our law enforcement, first-responders, teachers and other members of the community receive the training needed to respond appropriately to someone struggling with mental illness. Mental Health First Aid is currently being used with great success in Sacramento, and this legislation will support those efforts, and help others get started across the country.”

Jenkins’ bill is almost identical to the one she developed during the 113th Congress, working with Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ). Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate last month by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) along with co-sponsoring Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Rob Portman (R-OH) Jack Reed (D-RI), Dean Heller (R-NV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).