Today, representatives Ron Barber (AZ-2), Diana DeGette (CO-1), Doris Matsui (CA-6), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), and Paul Tonko (NY-20) introduced legislation aimed at improving the lives of individuals affected by mental illness. The Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014 contains many provisions including ones to: expand and improve upon available mental health services, strengthen coordination of federal mental programs, making mental health parity work, and developing the behavioral health workforce. The workforce section of the bill includes defining occupational therapists as mental and behavioral health professionals under the National Health Services Corp Loan Forgiveness Program.
The occupational therapy provision is similar to HR 1037 and S 1815, the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Act introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko and Sen. Mark Begich (AK). Its inclusion in this comprehensive mental health bill is strong recognition of the important role that occupational therapy plays in the provision of quality mental health services.
To learn more about HR 1037 and to write your Members of Congress about supporting the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Act, click here (http://capwiz.com/aota/issues/alert/?alertid=62482651 )
To learn more about the newly introduced legislation and to join in on conversations about the legislation you can follow on twitter using the hashtag #StrengthenMH. May is Mental Health Month, follow more conversations and activities on twitter using the hashtag #mhm2014.