U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today voted to support the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act, an amendment offered as part of the larger gun safety package. The amendment passed the Senate 95-2. Baldwin is an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill, which passed out of the HELP Committee earlier this month.
"To protect our children, we need to take a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence. That includes efforts to make schools safer and increase access to mental health services so people struggling with mental health problems get the help they need before crisis situations develop," Baldwin said. "I'm proud to have worked across party lines to pass commonsense legislation that will strengthen and improve awareness, prevention, and early identification of mental health conditions, especially among our young people. These targeted improvements will help assist our state and local communities in addressing the mental health needs of Wisconsin citizens."
The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act reauthorizes and improves programs administered by both the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services related to awareness, prevention, and early identification of mental health conditions, and the promotion of linkages to appropriate services for children and youth. The bill focuses on school settings by promoting school-wide prevention through the development of positive behavioral supports and encouraging school-based mental health partnerships. The bill also focuses on suicide prevention, helping children recover from traumatic events, mental health awareness for teachers and other individuals, and assessing barriers to integrating behavioral health and primary care. This bipartisan legislation makes targeted improvements designed to advance federal efforts to assist states and local communities in addressing the mental health needs of their citizens.
As a member of the House of Representatives, Baldwin supported the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008 and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. The MHPAEA works to ensure that when coverage for mental health and substance use conditions is provided, it is generally comparable to coverage for medical and surgical care. The ACA builds on the MHPAEA by requiring coverage of mental health and substance use disorder benefits for millions of Americans in the individual and small group markets who currently lack these benefits, and expanding parity requirements to apply to millions of Americans whose coverage did not previously comply with those requirements.