MHA Lends Support to Hatch, Wyden on Family First Act | Mental Health America

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MHA Lends Support to Hatch, Wyden on Family First Act

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2016
Contact: Erin Wallace, (571-319-9594,

MHA Lends Support to Hatch, Wyden on Family First Act
Calls for Congressional Action on Mental Health Reform

Alexandria, VA—Mental Health America is applauding Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) for their work on the draft of The Family First Act, and urges the Senate Finance Committee to continue to work together in a bipartisan way to pass much needed reform for America's child welfare system.

“Forty to sixty percent of children in our nation's child welfare system have at least one mental health condition,” explained Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of MHA. “Children and their families need access to effective and coordinated mental health treatment to stay with their families or help them thrive in a new placement.”

Children with mental health conditions are at greater risk of entering the child welfare system, and children in the child welfare system are at greater risk of developing a mental health condition. Many children are unnecessarily removed from their families in order to receive mental health services, and children in foster care often do not have access to the appropriate and coordinated services and supports they need.

The draft released by Senate Finance Committee staff late last year contains a number of thoughtful improvements that address this need, including:

  • Funding for mental health services and supports to prevent children from needing to enter foster care
  • Coordination of child and family services and supports
  • Continuing supports for families once a child is placed in the home
  • Focus on getting children needed treatment and avoiding inappropriate treatment
  • Taking a two-generation approach that provides services to children and their caregivers

Many aspects of the draft embody Mental Health America's Before Stage 4 philosophy, and MHA hopes to see the Senate Finance Committee continue work to pass a bipartisan bill this session.

MHA has been working tirelessly to see mental health reform move through Congress this year.

Concluded Gionfriddo, “It is time for investment in earlier identification and intervention, to integrate health and behavioral health care, to promote innovation, and to protect those impacted children who need our help. Those dealing with mental health concerns have waited long enough. It’s time for Congress to act.”


Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. Our work is driven by our commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated health, behavioral health and other services for those who need them, and recovery as a goal.

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