Rep. Ritchie Torres Introduces Legislation to Improve Community Mental Health Services

Dec 12, 2022
Press

Washington, D.C. – On Monday, Rep. Ritchie Torresintroduced the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Expansion Act of 2022. The bill amends the existing Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 to clarify the meaning of psychiatric rehabilitation services under demonstration programs to improve community mental health services, and for other purposes. This new legislation is an important step in the fight for accessible and holistic mental health care services.

This bill comes at a critical time as our nation’s mental health crisis has been on a sharp rise since the Covid-19 pandemic. 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year and suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-14. The legislation aims to close the gap that leaves so many Americans without access to mental health services. 

“Mental health awareness has grown significantly in recent years, yet access to the necessary services and person-centered models of care are still stuck in the past,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “Many communities have little to no access to diverse and equitable mental health services. When we improve access to services, and expand the options of care, we improve outcomes for those living with severe mental illness and their communities as a whole. This bill works to expand access to these lifesaving services and ensures that those in need of vital mental health services do not have to go without. I am grateful for the tireless work of Fountain House Bronx in uplifting our community through holistic mental health care that saves lives.” 

“We believe certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs) have great potential as a new and expanding model of innovative mental health care. Incorporating recovery models that are rooted in community — called psychosocial rehabilitation — will only maximize their impact,” said Ken Zimmerman, CEO of Fountain House. “Longstanding evidence shows the power of psychosocial rehabilitative models, such as clubhouses, to create working communities of trust and acceptance, which enable lasting connections to physical and mental health care, housing, education, and employment. By increasing access to these holistic, person-centered approaches to mental health care in CCBHCs and other settings, we can help collectively improve the lives of millions of people living with serious mental health challenges.”

“On behalf of myself, my peers at Fountain House, and the 14 million others across this country like me living with serious mental illness, I am incredibly grateful to my local congressman, Rep. Ritchie Torres, for giving me the opportunity to help craft this life-changing legislation alongside him,” said Arvind Sooknanan, a member of Fountain House Bronx who also serves on Fountain House’s Board of Directors. “It is truly a special moment in history when a sitting congressman is working with and for people with SMI to impact millions of lives for the sake of community and dignity.”

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