Political Differences Fade in Case of Bills to Expand Mental Health First Aid Training

Bipartisan groups in both the House and the Senate have introduced bills that would expand mental health first aid training across the country.

The proposed laws, known as the Mental Health First Aid Act in the Senate and the Mental Health First Act in the House, would provide grants to fund mental health training programs for teachers, nurses, police officers and school administrators. The programs would teach community members how to respond to a mental health crises and would educate the public about resources that are available for mental health treatment in their communities.

According to a statement from Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), the bill is endorsed by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, among other groups. If fully funded, the law would make up to $20 million in aid available to community programs that are desperate for funding, and it would mark a first step towards implementing President Obama's plan to provide greater funding for community mental health treatment following the Sandy Hook shootings.

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) spoke for many of the legislation's co-sponsors, saying "The broad bipartisan support for this bill shows that politics have no place when it comes to keeping our families and communities safe and providing adequate support for those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. This bill makes smart investments to increase awareness and resources for mental health services in Alaska and across the country. I look forward to seeing it move forward in the Senate.

To read the full text of the Senate version of the bill, click here, and click here for the House version.

Article Last Modified: 02/18/2013