U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has been honored by the American Psychiatric Association with the Jacob K. Javits Award. The award, announced this week, is given annually to policymakers who have "demonstrated distinguished leadership in supporting psychiatric medicine and mental health advocacy."
"Mental health services are a crucial part of health care," said Sen. Franken. "My friend Paul Wellstone believed that--he was a passionate advocate for improving access to mental health services, and ever since joining the Senate, I've been working to continue his legacy. It's critically important to ensure access to mental health services for everyone who needs them. I'm truly honored to receive the Jacob K. Javits Award from the American Psychiatric Association."
Improving access to mental health services is among Sen. Franken's top priorities in the Senate. Sen. Franken is the author of the Mental Health in Schools Act, which will help schools to provide access to mental health treatment for kids. The budget legislation recently passed by Congress included funding for Sen. Franken's program through $40 million provided for competitive grants to schools to collaborate with community-based mental health providers and other community organizations to expand access to early intervention and mental health treatment for students.
Last year, Sen. Franken also welcomed the release of long-delayed federal guidelines of the mental health parity law, which he had pushed for since his first days in the Senate.
Sen. Franken has also introduced the bipartisan Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act to bring more resources to law enforcement, the courts, and correctional facilities to help them better deal with the increasingly-prevalent mental health issues they encounter.