DBSA Provides Input to Congress on Future of Mental Healthcare

As legislators work to reimagine how mental and behavioral healthcare is delivered in the United States, DBSA is ensuring the needs of people living with depression or bipolar disorder are addressed.

In September, Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and John Cornyn (R-TX) released “A Bold Vision for America’s Mental Well-being.” The report outlined a new framework for mental healthcare and invited comments from experts and community leaders.

Additionally, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) requested input on how Congress can better address mental health needs and gaps in care, especially in Medicare and Medicaid.

Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, also requested feedback from stakeholders on the effectiveness of new legislation to build upon the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016.

In response, DBSA informed policymakers on the benefits of peer support and the need to expand the mental healthcare workforce, ensuring mental healthcare is affordable and accessible to all who need it.

Read DBSA’s full responses here and here.

Empowering Safe Gun Ownership for People with Mental Health Conditions

With the arrival of hunting season, we’d like to highlight DBSA’s position statement on Safe Gun Ownership for people living with mood disorders. DBSA believes everyone has the right to autonomy, regardless of mental health conditions.

DBSA advocates against the discrimination of people living with mood disorders by supporting, endorsing, and publicizing the recommendations put forward by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. Some of those recommendations include:

  • Passing legislation to increase the availability of threat assessment training at the local, state, tribal, and national levels.
  • Enacting state red-flag or extreme-risk protection orders that allow the temporary removal of guns from individuals who are known to pose a high risk of harming others or themselves in the near future.
  • Fully implementing the existing federal background check requirement for firearms purchases.

To learn more about our legislative priorities, visit our advocacy center.

Self-Advocacy Tips

Know Your Rights: Addressing Mental Health Discrimination in the Workplace and at Home

Learn about your rights and prepare to advocate for yourself with “Know Your Rights: Addressing Mental Health Discrimination in the Workplace and at Home,” an educational webinar covering common concerns in the workplace, with housing, and with health insurance.

The session, recorded during DBSA’s 2021 Virtual Leadership Summit, is led by Eric Scharf, DBSA Federal Advocacy Advisor, and Abraham Hiatt, Esq., Staff Attorney, Disability Rights DC.

In addition to learning strategies to address mental health discrimination, you’ll learn more about:

  • Employment under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Housing access through the Fair Housing Act
  • Health Insurance access through the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

Briefly Noted

Open enrollment for healthcare.gov ends on Saturday, January 15, 2022. The Kaiser Family Foundation updated its Health Insurance Marketplace Calculator, which provides estimates of 2022 health insurance premiums and subsidies for people purchasing insurance on their own in health insurance exchanges. Their FAQ database covers a wide range of topics related to obtaining or renewing Marketplace coverage.

The Biden Administration recently published a fact sheet outlining its steps to improve healthcare access for youth mental health (MH) and substance use disorder (SUD) conditions. Steps include:

  • Ensuring access to quality, affordable health care;
  • Investing in community-based youth MH/SUD care; and
  • Increasing school-based behavioral health supports.

As a part of these efforts, the Department of Education released a new resource that provides strategies to support child and student social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs.

Cures 2.0 was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) and builds on the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016. The new bill expedites disease research and therapeutic approval, bolsters public health and pandemic preparedness initiatives, enhances access to health care, and addresses health insurance coverage. There are numerous provisions that DBSA is supporting, and we will be keeping you in the loop as this vital piece of health care legislation moves through Congress.

DBSA is conducting a survey of its various supporters and identified our advocacy program as a key priority. We want to use this opportunity to further explore ways that we can further enhance our advocacy efforts on your behalf in advancing the key policy issues on behalf of those who live with mood disorders. This confidential survey is the beginning of that process. Your input is essential to ensure we provide relevant tools in the months ahead. Please take the survey here.

We’ve selected our first gift card winner! To maintain anonymity, once you complete the survey, please click this link where you may enter your email address for a chance to win one of five $25 Amazon Gift Cards. The survey is estimated to take 10 minutes to complete.

Register for DBSA’s Peer Specialist Course
DBSA’s 5-week course can help you prepare for certification as a Peer Specialist. Through a blend of individual learning, group discussions, presentations, and role-playing, you will gain the skills you need to help others move toward wellness. To learn more about DBSA’s courses, please visit our webpage.

2022 Peer Specialist Courses:

  • January 3 to February 4, 2022
  • April 4 to May 6, 2022