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New Legislation Seeks to Improve Access to Community Mental Healthcare
Date:10/18/2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --- The nation's mental health system was revitalized with the introduction of landmark legislation in the U.S. Senate yesterday to provide new resources and support for community-based care.

Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Gordon H. Smith (R-OR) introduced S. 2182, the Community Mental Health Services Improvement Act.

The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, which championed the legislation, commends Senators Reed and Smith for their leadership in addressing the mental health needs of the American people. The National Council is the nation's association of community behavioral healthcare organizations and works to ensure that all those who have a mental illness can get effective and comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation in their communities.

"The introduction of this legislation in the Senate is an important milestone in helping the nation's community mental health system meet America's most pressing healthcare challenges today," said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council.

Mental illness in America is more common than cancer, diabetes, or even heart disease. Nearly 60 million people --- one in four adults and one in five children --- have a mental illness that can be diagnosed and treated. Yet the community mental health system --- the only point of care for a majority of people with mental illness --- has been chronically under-funded for many years and struggles to meet basic health needs in the face of low reimbursement rates, shrinking budgets, and workforce shortages.

"Mental illness is just as deadly and serious as a physical illness," said Senator Gordon H. Smith (R-OR). "While effective treatment exists for most people, access to care continues to be a challenge. A federal commitment is needed to ensure care is available when and where it is needed."

Among its main provisions, S. 2182 calls for funding to allow community ment
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SOURCE National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
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