WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - December 07, 2016) - Today the Senate took a significant step to save lives across the country by voting 94-5 to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which will enact meaningful reforms to the country's mental health and criminal justice systems, as well as fund research into cancer and other diseases. For nearly four years, SHP has worked tirelessly to pass mental health reform legislation to ensure that those in distress have access to the services they need. This is a tremendous victory for the organization, as well as those it partnered with to pass this very important legislation including American Psychiatric Association, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Psychological Association, the Eating Disorders Coalition, Mental Health America, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Sandy Hook Promise praises the steadfast dedication of the Senators it also worked closely with to help pass this bill including, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Al Franken (D-MN). President Obama praised the bill during his weekly address on Saturday and is expected to quickly sign it.
"It was a team effort to get this bill done," said Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut after Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act. "There was a big question this fall as to whether the Mental Health Reform Act will be part of this package…[but] there was a turning point moment that Sandy Hook Promise and Mark [Barden] had big role in."
Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) who lost his first-grade son, Daniel Barden, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, commented on the bill's passage, "The passing of this bill is such a monumental success for us at Sandy Hook Promise and all of the mental health organizations that we partnered with who have worked tirelessly for nearly four years to pass the mental health reform. I applaud the outstanding leadership of our Senators and Representatives, as this bill will help millions of people in need. This legislation begins to do the critical work of prioritizing early intervention and increasing access to mental health services and suicide prevention programs. And we are ready for the work ahead."
The 21st Century Cures Act aims to strengthen federal coordination of mental health resources, increase reporting on mental health parity, advance integrated service delivery, support the mental health workforce, increase early access to mental health services, promote suicide prevention and enact meaningful reforms to criminal justice systems. New work is also expected in the field of immunotherapy, a promising treatment for cancer and in the study of the brain, which could bring discoveries on Alzheimer's disease and mental illness, as well as expands treatment for those battling drug addiction.
About Sandy Hook Promise: Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a non-partisan national nonprofit formed and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Based in Newtown, Connecticut, SHP's sole purpose is to prevent gun violence BEFORE it happens so that no other parents experience the senseless, horrific loss of their child. SHP delivers four, at no cost, Know the Signs programs that teach youth and adults to recognize signs and signals of individuals who may be at-risk of hurting themselves or others and intervene to get them help before it is too late. SHP's Know the Signs programs have helped stop a school shooting, multiple suicide and firearm threats, while also intervening to help individuals get mental health assistance. Additionally, SHP advocates for sensible state and federal violence prevention policy in the areas of mental health and wellness identification, intervention and treatment as well as firearm access and storage. To bring SHP's Know the Signs programs to your school or community or help advocate for sensible policy, visit sandyhookpromise.org.