Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today announced that the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a congressional forum with leading national experts on March 5 to explore issues related to severe mental illness and violence.
Lance, who is expected to participate as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the forum was part of congressionalefforts to examine mental health issues raised by the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy.
"This bipartisan forum is part of the Energy and Commerce Committee's examination into the potential nexus between gun violence and severe mental illness," said Lance. "This is a topic of great importance to me and I look forward to participating in the March 5 hearing with leading experts in the field."
According of the Energy and Commerce Committee the March 5 forum will bring together the Nation's top mental health experts, including leading researchers and providers both in the federal government and in private practice as part of the on-going national dialogue on violence, guns, and mental illness.
Panelists are expected to explore issues related to early detection of mental illness; how the treatment for the severely mentally ill has changed over time; the programs and treatments currently being offered, including involuntary treatment, and where these services are provided, including inpatient settings, health centers, schools, and by the criminal justice system; what treatments are successful; and barriers individuals and families face when seeking treatment for the severely mentally ill.
The Seventh District lawmaker praised the Energy and Commerce Committee for taking the lead in Congress on examining mental health treatment, federal grants programs and research into mental illness and violence.
Earlier this month the Committee sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inquiring about the federal response taken to assess and improve the Nation's mental health system following previous incidences of mass violence. It is also expected to investigate how federal privacy rules impact the ability of state and local governments to share mental health records with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
And Lance himself will soon introduce federal legislation aimed at expanding and improving access to mental health services at community clinics around the country so that we can better identify and treat those at risk of violent behavior.
"I am proud that the Energy and Commerce Committee is taking the lead in this important national dialogue on mental illness and gun violence,"concluded Lance.