Recordings and Follow-Up Information on Congressional Briefing
"COMMUNITY MENTAL WELLNESS & RESILIENCE ACT OF 2023"
From Email By: National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives
A landmark bill that will fund community-led initiatives that use a public health approach to prevent and heal mental health problems caused by toxic stresses, emergencies, and disasters.
This Congressional Briefing explained why HR3073, the “Community Mental Wellness and Resilience Act of 2023” is urgently needed, what it will do, and its many benefits for communities nationwide. It was introduced in the US House by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Don Bacon (R-NE), Mary Peltola (D-AK), and Kathy Castor (D-FL). A companion bill, S 1452, was introduced in the Senate by Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Click here to see the legislative language of HR 3073.
“The Community Mental Wellness and Resilience Act of 2023” is urgently needed because mental health problems are at epidemic levels today. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began mental health problems were rising nationwide. According to Mental Health America, last year almost 20 percent of adults, or nearly 50 million Americans,experienced a diagnosed mental illness and 5percent had a severe mental illness. About 8percent had a substance use disorder, 10percent experienced an alcohol disorder, and over 11 million adults reported serious thoughts of suicide.
In addition, a 2022 CDC survey found that overall, 37 percent of students at public and private high schools reported poor mental health, including stress, anxiety, and depression. A poll by the American Psychiatric Association last year found that 53 percent of adults with children under 18 said they are concerned about the mental state of their children.
The historic storms, heatwaves, droughts,floods, wildfires, hazardous smoke events, and other emergencies and disasters the US is experiencing are aggravating these problems and creating new ones. In 2021 more that 40percent of Americans lived in a county that was impacted by a major natural disaster.Disasters can traumatize 20-40 percent of those who are directly impacted, 10-20 percent of disaster response workers, and 5-10 percent of the general population who are not directly affected but know someone who is or view the events from afar. Consequently, the number of people who experience a mental health problem as a result of a disaster often outweigh those with physical injuries by 40 to 1.
Although they will remain very important, there will never be enough mental health providers to assist all of the people who experience mental health problems today, and the number of people needing assistance will only grow as more toxic stresses, emergencies, and disasters occur. Extensive research by the ITRC found that to reduce today's epidemic of mental health problems, and prevent future ones, requires the use of community-led initiatives that use a public health approach to build mental wellness and resilience among all residents for all types of toxic stresses,emergencies, and disasters.
Establish Similar Policies and Programs in Every State and Community
With global temperatures rising to dangerous levels, toxic stresses, emergencies, and disasters will continue to accelerate, producing even more mental health and psychosocial problems. Resilience Coordinating Networks are therefore urgently needed in every neighborhood and community nationwide. Even after enactment, the federal “Community Mental Wellness and Resilience Act” will only be able to fund and support a limited number community-based trauma prevention and healing resilience building initiatives. We therefore urge you to consider establishing similar policies and programs in your state, county, and/or community, which can be linked with the federal policy.