House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) today announced that the oversight subcommittee would spearhead the committee's examination of a range of programs and issues within its jurisdiction, including mental health, that have been raised in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedy. The subcommittee expects to hear from the nation's leading experts on mental health and illness including those leading research efforts in federal agencies as part of the ongoing national dialogue on violence, guns, and mental illness.
"The events in Newtown, Connecticut, have pushed mental health to the forefront, providing an opportunity to have a constructive discussion on a subject that has often been ignored," said Upton. "While we do not know what caused the tragic events in Newtown to unfold, it has generated a national debate on guns, violence, cultural factors, and mental illness. The string of attacks in Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, and at Virginia Tech force us to ask what we can do as a nation to care for and treat those who suffer from mental illnesses. Our committee has jurisdiction over the key federal departments and agencies who play a role in mental health research and care. We must seek to gain a better understanding of societal factors, potential causes, and their overall impact upon outbreaks of violence. Mental illness is a difficult subject and there are no easy answers, but it is important to have an honest discussion out in the open."
Subcommittee Chairman Murphy added, "For too long, mental illness has been a topic saved for the shadows, often going unmentioned. I know this firsthand from my work with countless families in crisis struggling to help a loved one with mental illness. I believe Newtown serves to inspire thoughtful examination and action on mental health policies. I welcome the opportunity to lead the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee in a meaningful conversation on mental health as we examine mental health resources and programs across the federal spectrum. The subcommittee will begin an overview of these programs to determine the current state of mental health research and what role mental illness plays in these tragedies. We will seek out any and all expert perspectives to gain a better understanding and learn how we can do better."
NOTE: Prior to serving in Congress, Rep. Tim Murphy was a board-certified practicing psychologist specializing in child and family treatment. Dr. Murphy is the author of "The Angry Child" and "Overcoming Passive-Aggression."