MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID ACT OF 2016; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 145
(House of Representatives - September 26, 2016)

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[Pages H5870-H5871]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                  MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID ACT OF 2016

  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 1877) to amend section 520J of the Public Health Service Act 
to authorize grants for mental health first aid training programs, as 
amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 1877

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Mental Health First Aid Act 
     of 2016''.

     SEC. 2. MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS TRAINING GRANTS.

       Section 520J of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 
     290bb-41) is amended--
       (1) in the section heading, by inserting ``mental health 
     awareness'' before ``training''; and
       (2) in subsection (b)--
       (A) in the subsection heading, by striking ``Illness'' and 
     inserting ``Health'';
       (B) in paragraph (1), by inserting ``, veterans, law 
     enforcement, and other categories of individuals, as 
     determined by the Secretary,'' after ``emergency services 
     personnel'';
       (C) in paragraph (5)--
       (i) in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking 
     ``to'' and inserting ``for evidence-based programs that 
     provide education to teachers, personnel, and other 
     categories of individuals described in paragraph (1) on at 
     least''; and
       (ii) by striking subparagraphs (A) through (C) and 
     inserting the following:
       ``(A) recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness; 
     and
       ``(B) either--
       ``(i) resources available in the community for individuals 
     with a mental illness and other relevant resources; or
       ``(ii) the safe de-escalation of crisis situations 
     involving individuals with a mental illness.''; and
       (D) in paragraph (7), by striking ``, $25,000,000'' and all 
     that follows through the period at the end and inserting 
     ``$14,963,000 for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Kentucky (Mr. Guthrie) and the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Kentucky.


                             General Leave

  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and 
insert extraneous materials in the Record on the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Kentucky?

[[Page H5871]]

  There was no objection.
  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1877, the Mental Health 
First Aid Act of 2016, introduced by the gentlewoman from Kansas, 
Representative Lynn Jenkins, and the gentlewoman from California, 
Representative Doris Matsui. This legislation enjoyed broad support on 
the Energy and Commerce Committee, passing through a full committee 
markup on a voice vote.
  The program we are reauthorizing today is an important one. It is a 
grant program that helps families and individuals in the community, 
including pastors, first responders, emergency personnel, nurses, 
teachers, and others to recognize the signs of mental illness. They are 
also learning how to deescalate a mental health crisis situation and 
how to help their neighbors in need connect with resources available 
for mental health treatment in the community. Finally, H.R. 1877 is 
fully CutGo compliant.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I rise in support of H.R. 1877, the Mental Health First Aid Act of 
2016. This important legislation would bolster our Nation's efforts to 
respond to individuals suffering from mental health disorders and 
crises. It would reauthorize a grant program to train individuals such 
as teachers, law enforcement, and veterans, who are likely to encounter 
people with mental illness. The training would provide tools to help 
those individuals detect mental illness and provide the initial 
response, including connecting individuals with mental illness to 
mental health treatment and service providers in their community.
  Mental illness can lead to harmful outcomes, and that includes things 
such as suicide, homelessness, and involvement with the criminal 
justice system. However, access to early intervention and treatment 
services can help an individual recover from their condition and lead a 
productive life.
  Despite the availability of evidence-based interventions, we know 
that there are long delays in individuals seeking treatment after the 
first onset of a mental health condition, and this legislation hopes to 
reverse that trend. Mental health awareness training will equip more 
individuals with the ability to identify the signs and symptoms of 
mental illness and connect people with mental health treatment and 
support services. This would help decrease the time from the first 
onset of mental illness to an individual obtaining the treatment and 
services that they need.
  I also encourage my colleagues to support this legislation; but I 
would like to reiterate that, just like with H.R. 2646, the Helping 
Families in Mental Health Crisis Act which awaits action in the Senate, 
this is a necessary step, rather than a solution, to improving the 
mental health system in this country. If we are truly serious about 
fixing our broken mental health system, we have to work together to 
expand access and make sustained investments.
  So again, I want to thank Representatives Matsui and Jenkins for 
their leadership on this issue. I urge my colleagues to support this 
important bipartisan bill.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Kansas (Ms. Jenkins).
  Ms. JENKINS of Kansas. I thank my friend, the gentleman from Kentucky 
(Mr. Guthrie), for yielding time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1877, the Mental Health 
First Aid Act of 2016.
  The first step to help someone suffering with a mental illness get 
the help he or she needs is to be able to quickly spot the signs of 
mental illness and know where to point that friend, colleague, 
neighbor, or family member. H.R. 1877 will help police, first 
responders, veterans' advocates, teachers, and others spot the signs 
and get people the help they need.
  It authorizes a grant program that has been included in 
appropriations bills the past few years and enjoyed great support from 
Congress and the public. The grant money will go to fund State Bureaus 
of Prisons, veterans' advocacy groups, EMT and EMS teams, police 
officers, and firefighters. These important groups will be educated in 
spotting signs of mental illness in the people they work and live with 
so they can find help for these individuals.
  We hear about the state of our mental health system every day and the 
state of the VA dealing with injured veterans. We hear about police and 
first responders called to a scene where someone has become dangerous 
and they are not sure the best way to respond. H.R. 1877 will help 
those people know how to respond so that the situation can stay in 
control and the risk of harm to folks is lessened.

                              {time}  1415

  The kinds of education programs that this legislation will provide 
authorization for have been shown to be effective and efficient at 
teaching people the signs of mental illness and how to drop the stigma 
of that illness so that someone in need can get help. I am glad that we 
have decided to take action here today.
  It is well known that this piece of legislation has been one of my 
top priorities since coming to Congress, and I am thankful to my 
colleagues on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Chairman 
Upton and Congresswoman Matsui, for taking it up and supporting it. 
Congresswoman Matsui and I worked on this bill because we both saw the 
need for training in communities so that people in a position to do so 
could help those suffering with mental illness.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this important bill.
  Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I urge support for this legislation.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, again, I encourage support of the bill.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, many Americans know someone who is 
struggling with a mental illness . . . but we often do not know how to 
help. For too long . . . stigma has prevented us from seeking the 
lifesaving information we need to best help someone experiencing a 
mental health crisis.
  By equipping our first responders . . . law enforcement personnel . . 
. and educators with training and knowledge . . . Mental Health First 
Aid courses are helping break down barriers and de-escalate crises in 
our communities.
  We have seen positive results from these courses in Sacramento . . . 
and across the country. By passing H.R. 1877 today . . . we reauthorize 
important grant funding that will allow for the implementation of the 
Mental Health First Aid model nationally.
  I want to thank Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins for her work on this 
important legislation. Today represents one step forward in our efforts 
to address the mental health crisis in this country. Yet . . . the need 
for comprehensive reform remains.
  We need to put adequate resources toward our behavioral health 
workforce . . . and ensure parity between physical and mental health 
care for all Americans. I will continue to strongly advocate for a 
legislative framework that supports this entire spectrum of care . . . 
and I urge my colleagues to join me in those efforts.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Guthrie) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, H.R. 1877, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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