Responding to a Mental Health System in Crisis

You cannot watch the news for very long without seeing some new tragedy where the perpetrator is reported to have a mental illness. More than 13 million Americans have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression, and the majority of them are going without treatment. You only need to look at the most recent mass shootings or the overpopulated prison systems to see that our current mental health system is broken, and the time for action is now.

When these tragedies strike, politicians, media and victims cry out about the state of mental healthcare in our country, and how we must do something to solve it. But what do we do? How do we do it? As politicians fail to come to an agreement, people suffer further every day. One thing we can agree on — our current mental health system is in a crisis that demands swift and effective action.

As a member of Congress, I have heard this call to action, and I am doing something about it. I am a non-practicing registered nurse who once served as the Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Dallas. My background and work on this issue motivated me to join forces with Congressman Tim Murphy, R-Pa., to offer our voices and push for reform through the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

Congressman Murphy spent a year investigating our country’s mental health system on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He is also a psychologist in the Navy Reserve Medical Service Corps. Together we bring firsthand, expert knowledge from the field of mental healthcare to this bill. We know the people this bill will help, and we know how important this bill is to patients, families and the community as a whole.