WASHINGTON (MAY 13, 2021) – On Wednesday, May 12 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a large group of mental health and suicide prevention bills in recognition of May Mental Health Month. Robert Gebbia, Chief Executive Officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, released this statement:
“As an organization dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, we would like to thank the U.S. House of Representatives for bringing vital pieces of legislation focused on mental health and suicide prevention to the floor and for supporting the passage of legislation that can save lives, including:
- The STANDUP Act (H.R. 586)
- Mental Health Services for Students Act (H.R.721)
- Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act (H.R.1205)
- Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act (H.R.1324)
- Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act (H.R.1475)
- Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act (H.R.1480)
- The Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act (H.R. 2862)
- Suicide Prevention Act (H.R.2955)
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act (H.R.2981)
These pieces of legislation will increase access to mental health care, expand vital resources for students, and enhance research opportunities. These legislative efforts would support key resources for youth, including increasing access to mental health professionals in schools, training programs on suicide prevention awareness, increased funding for research into mental health disparities in youth of color, and increased support for efforts to diversify the behavioral health workforce.
Emergency room suicide prevention efforts would also be addressed by broadening access to screening, implementing updated protocols, leveraging new technology, and providing follow-up care to connect patients with resources upon discharge. We are also supportive of efforts to intensify data surveillance, expanding real-time data collection of suicide and self-harm that will better inform prevention. First responder suicide prevention efforts were also included to ensure that the mental health needs of first responders are being addressed and new best practices are developed.
Additional legislative efforts included improvements to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by strengthening standards and publicizing the change to 9-8-8 as the suicide prevention and mental health crisis line in July 2022.
We applaud the sponsoring legislators and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, especially Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) for their leadership in passing these vital pieces of mental health and suicide prevention legislation. I urge the Senate to prioritize passage of these bills, so that increased access to mental health and substance use care and suicide prevention resources are more readily available to support patients, families, and providers.
I am grateful for our over 32,000 volunteer Field Advocates for making their voices heard, and for continuing to contact their Members of Congress. They show us that when we advocate together, that suicide prevention and mental health are a top priority.”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with an Advocacy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Contact: Alexis O’Brien, 347-826-3577, firstname.lastname@example.org
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