Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (12/18/2015)

Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2015

(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to expand the focus of a youth interagency research, training, and technical assistance resource center from youth suicides to suicide at any age, particularly among groups at high risk for suicide. The center is reauthorized through FY2020.

This bill revises and extends through FY2020 grant programs for: (1) the development of state or tribal youth suicide early intervention and prevention strategies, (2) enhancement of services for students with mental health or substance use disorders at institutions of higher education, and (3) training school personnel to recognize symptoms of childhood and adolescent mental disorders and safely de-escalate crisis situations involving individuals with a mental illness.

(Sec. 4) The grant program to address violence-related stress must support the continued operation of the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI). The NCTSI coordinating center must report on child treatment and outcomes and facilitate training in evidence-based and trauma-informed treatments, interventions, and practices.

(Sec. 5) The Government Accountability Office (GAO) must report on federal requirements that impact access to treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.

(Sec. 6) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) may advance awareness of products approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid use disorders. (Opioids are drugs with effects similar to opium, such as certain pain medications.)

(Sec. 7) The GAO must report on children's access to mental health services and prescription of psychotropic medications to children.

(Sec. 8) SAMHSA must provide technical assistance to grantees regarding evidence-based practices for the prevention and treatment of geriatric mental health disorders and co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, as well as disseminate information about such practices.

(Sec. 9) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraged to improve the National Violent Death Reporting System.

(Sec. 10) The GAO must evaluate the utilization of mental health services for children and the implementation of recommendations made in "On Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy."

(Sec. 11) The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation must evaluate the impact of SAMHSA activities and recommend performance metrics for SAMHSA programs. SAMHSA must advance the use of performance metrics to improve programs.