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

Feb 07, 2024
Press

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) introduced the
Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Expansion Act of 2024. This legislation seeks
to modify the existing Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, specifically addressing the
definition of psychiatric rehabilitation services within demonstration programs aimed at
enhancing community mental health services, among other provisions. The introduction of this
bill marks a significant stride in advancing accessible and comprehensive mental health care
services.


“Despite the significant growth in mental health awareness in recent years, access to essential
services and person-centered care models remains rooted in outdated practices,” said U.S.
Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15).
“Many communities still lack adequate and equitable
access to a diverse range of mental health services. By enhancing service accessibility and
broadening care options, we can enhance outcomes for individuals grappling with severe mental
illness and bolster the well-being of entire communities. This legislation aims to widen access to
these critical services, ensuring that individuals in need of essential mental health support are not
left behind. I commend the relentless efforts of Fountain House Bronx in championing holistic
mental health care that truly saves lives within our community.”


The timing of this legislative initiative is crucial, given the escalating mental health challenges
facing our nation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With 1 in 5 U.S. adults
experiencing mental illness annually and suicide ranking as the second leading cause of death
among individuals aged 10-14, the urgency to address the mental health crisis is evident. The
proposed legislation endeavors to bridge the existing gap that deprives numerous Americans of
essential access to mental health services.


“We applaud Congressman Torres for introducing the Certified Community Behavioral Health
Clinic Expansion Act of 2024 in partnership with people most impacted by serious mental
illness, including Fountain House’s members and with Clubhouse International,” said Ken
Zimmerman, CEO of Fountain House.
“By recognizing and incorporating psychosocial
services as integral tools for recovery, this legislation addresses critical gaps in our mental health
infrastructure that have, for too long, relied solely on clinical care. As local clubhouses are
leveraged for their expertise, we hope it will ultimately create a more comprehensive and
coherent mental health ecosystem that can meet people where they’re at and more meaningfully
address the social drivers of health.”


“Expanding access to clubhouses and the social supports they provide is absolutely essential and
we thank Rep. Torres and Rep. Thanedar for championing the Certified Community Behavioral
Health Clinic Expansion Act to bring these vital resources to more people across the country,”
said Shawn Guffey, member of Fountain House. “People’s lives are at stake: their ability to
function, to be independent, to lead full and happy lives. We need more support from leaders at
every level of government to ensure mental health is a priority that is funded and scaled.”


“The CCBHC Expansion Act is a tremendous step forward for our nation’s behavioral health
care,” said Kailey Fiedler-Gohlke, CEO of HERO House NW. “Highlighting the importance
of the Clubhouse model as a key aspect of the continuum of care for those living with mental
illness is a critical component of recovery. Isolation is the most devastating symptom of mental
illness and expanding the access to models, such as the Clubhouse, can reduce and eliminate the
loneliness people experience. HERO House NW’s community is proud to support this bill.”


“The community of Magnolia Clubhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, is proud to support this work and
we are in great appreciation to Rep. Torres for championing psychiatric rehabilitation and the
Clubhouse model as an exceptional example of what people living with mental illness need and
deserve,” said Lori D’Angelo, Executive Director of Magnolia Clubhouse. “Clubhouses fill a
void in the crisis-oriented system of care and offer a holistic and comprehensive approach that
provides community, opportunity, and hope.”


“We are encouraged by the expansion of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic services
and applaud Congressman Torres for his leadership on this important issue,” said Joel D.
Corcoran, Executive Director and CEO of Clubhouse International.
“Psychosocial
rehabilitation programs like Clubhouses are a medical necessity for recovery and should be a part
of every comprehensive mental health service system. We have decades of evidence
demonstrating that programs offering dignity, self-determination, social inclusion, and
meaningful rehabilitation opportunities truly help people living with mental illness reclaim their
futures and thrive in the community.”


The bill has garnered widespread support from a diverse array of clubhouses across the country.
Endorsing organizations include Fountain House, Clubhouse International, Hero House NW,
Fresh Start Clubhouse, Academy at Glengary, Inc., Mental Health Connections, Pennsylvania
Clubhouse Coalition, Tempo House, and Magnolia Clubhouse.

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