From Laura W. Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice, Clinical Social Work Association:
Mental Health First Aid Act (H.R. 1877) passed the House yesterday by voice vote. This Act will be extended through 2021 through block grants to train first responders, law enforcement and teachers to assist anyone in a mental health crisis, and reduce stigma toward them.
The bill will expand grant eligibility for the SAMHSA program to include programs to train veterans and law enforcement on how to recognize and respond to persons with mental illness. The program previously only focused on teachers and emergency responders.
The Senate passed a similar bill (S. 1893) in January, 2016. The Senate version, introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), focused on youth mental health services.
The House and Senate hope to soon create a unified bill in conference they can send to the President Obama soon.
LCSWs may have opportunities to help provide this training. CSWA will provide more information as it is available.
This is the first of several bills that CSWA hopes will increase access to mental health treatment and support services in the next few weeks.