Executive Director, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS)
In the wake of several recent mass shootings, many are calling for an overhaul of the nation’s systems of mental health care. A national debate has been renewed over whether legislation is needed to force local officials and mental health providers to be more responsive to those with more profound mental health needs, and whether those groups should, in turn, force such individuals to accept some form of treatment. In this post, Harvey Rosenthal argues we should reframe the debate and focus on reforms that significantly increase the range and raise the bar for community outreach and supportive services.
Fixing Not Forcing Services
Over the past year, we’ve seen an intensified focus on our nation’s and state mental health systems that has drawn a broad array of advocacy groups to weigh in on the merits of two legislative proposals put forward by House members Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) and Ron Barber (D-Arizona).
Central to Congressman Murphy’s bill is a provision that would require states to adopt or expand court-mandated outpatient commitment programs like New York’s Kendra’s Law in order to access federal block grant dollars. These and several other provisions have generated much controversy. While it now appears that contentious provisions like these will not be moved by the House GOP leadership this year, it is imperative that we address a number of challenges that the bills present.