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Mental Health Reform Desperately Needed To Pass House And Senate

After months of quiescence, the gears of legislative action on mental health have swung into action. Next week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016, an important bill crafted by Rep Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex). If the full House approves the bill and the Senate follows suit, a solid groundwork for improving the nation’s mental health system will be laid.

The odyssey of the bill, which was first introduced in 2013 and has gone through several revisions in response to critics, is worth examining. The controversy it has generated sheds light on pre-existing tensions surrounding ideas about the nature of the forces (psychological, biological, and social) that lead to psychopathology – and, in turn, the most appropriate forms of treatment and intervention. This clash of cultures explains much of why our federal mental health system is so troubled in the first place.