WASHINGTON. D.C. – This morning, Congressman Frank Guinta (NH-01) and Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a mental health summit to announce draft legislation the two Representatives are planning to introduce jointly in order to improve mental health care across the country. Nearly 100 mental health advocates, experts, and professionals from across the Granite State were in attendance to discuss the draft legislation and other initiatives to improve the mental health system in New Hampshire.
"Reforming our mental health system is a cause both near and dear to my heart. As the primary caretaker of a family member battling a mental illness, I know firsthand how our current system is failing those with these illnesses and also where there are opportunities to strengthen our system. This is a common-sense and bipartisan issue; and I look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Kuster to fix this urgent issue facing the Granite State,” said Guinta.
“I was so pleased to host this joint summit with Congressman Guinta in order to hear directly from local stakeholders in New Hampshire about how best to increase access to mental health care for those in need. It’s long past time to remove the stigma around mental health and ensure that high quality care is offered in the Granite State and beyond, and I’m proud to join with Congressman Guinta in drafting legislation to improve mental health services across the nation. Today’s summit gave us a chance to receive feedback on our legislation from those in the community who are working on these issues every day on the ground in New Hampshire, and we look forward to incorporating their thoughts in our bill as we prepare to introduce the legislation in the House,” said Rep. Kuster.
The draft legislation being discussed during the summit looks to address several aspects of mental health services and treatment, including the formation of a Mental Health Coordination Committee to establish a national strategy for the treatment of mental illness, the expansion of current demonstration projects for Federally Qualified Community Health centers, and increased investment in research for the prevention and treatment of mental illness disorders. Guinta and Kuster will use the feedback they heard at the summit to revise and improve their proposal before introducing the joint legislation at a later date.
Today’s summit gave advocates, providers, and state lawmakers a chance to discuss with Guinta and Kuster the challenges facing Granite Staters with mental illness, the current support system and treatment options, plans to improve services, and their thoughts on how Congress can better support the mental health community. Following welcoming remarks by Guinta and Kuster, three discussion panels on Co-occurring Disorders, Barriers to Care, and Mental Health and the Justice System took place. Kuster and Guinta were joined at the summit by NH DHHS Commissioner Nick Toumpas, NH Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau, and NAMI NH Executive Director Ken Norton, as well as representatives from the health care, law enforcement, mental health, substance abuse, and corrections communities.
(May 11, 2015 | Congressman Guinta and Congresswoman Kuster during today’s mental health summit with local advocates)