CAMFT Leadership Visits Capitol Hill to Lobby for Mental Health Legislation as Shots Fired on the Grounds

Event Underscores Need to Pass Expanded Mental Health Services
Legislation

SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In a frightening sequence of events on Monday, leaders of the California
Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
(CAMFT), a 32,000
member professional organization, found themselves and congressional
staffers ordered by Capitol Police to “shelter in place” after shots
were fired at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. The traumatic experience
left the delegation of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs)
with sober insight of a patient’s emotional distress from such an event.
CAMFT members are in the nation’s capital this week to lobby for
legislation, including provisions for increased mental health coverage
under Medicare and for veterans.

“CAMFT’s delegation of 14 Licensed and Marriage and Family Therapists
from California lobbied representatives to co-sponsor and support the
Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2015 (HR 2759/S. 1830) and
Marriage and Family Therapists for Veterans Act (HR 2639) bills,” said
Laura C. Strom, LMFT and CAMFT President.

“The need for expanded mental health coverage is imperative, especially
amongst the Medicare population. HR 2759/S. 1830 allows LMFTs to serve
as Medicare providers for this population. This would not only increase
access to mental health care, but would also result in savings to the
Medicare program by providing Medicare beneficiaries with a lower-cost
mental health care option and beneficial alternative to costly
in-patient services,” said Strom.

Regarding HR 2639, Strom noted, “There is a barrier keeping 95% of LMFTs
in California from working at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
This bill would remove the barrier and help ease the shortage of mental
health providers in the VA. Our veterans deserve greater access to
mental health care.”

Monday’s shooting underscores the importance of President Obama’s recent
proposal to appropriate $500 million to expand mental health services.
The appropriation, if funded by Congress, would be part of the
Administration’s 2017 budget.

“The President’s executive action addresses the critical gap between the
millions of Americans who have mental health problems and our ability as
a nation to help these individuals,” said Strom. “As an organization
dedicated to providing mental health services, CAMFT recognizes
thousands of local residents need this specialized care. We understand
the effects of mental illness on families and neighborhoods, and are
experts in treating and managing conditions ranging from addiction to
depression to problems related to trauma and many others.”

The
National Alliance on Mental Illness
(NAMI) estimates that 43.8
million adults have some type of mental or behavioral health issue, yet
only 41 percent of these adults are receiving treatment; one in five
have a mental health condition.

CAMFT encourages Californians to utilize the Association’s vast network
of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. “We are committed to raising
awareness of the prevalence of mental health conditions in our
communities, including erasing stigma, and are uniquely positioned to
help address these critical needs,” Strom said.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists are mental health professionals
who work with individuals including children, teens, and adults,
couples, families, and groups to treat mental, emotional, traumatic, and
relational distress of all kinds. LMFTs work in a variety of settings
throughout California. LMFTs have acquired two-year master’s degrees,
3,000 hours of supervised experience and have passed two rigorous exams.
Their extensive training includes treatment of trauma, addiction,
depression, anxiety, grief, and much more.

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About California Association of Marriage and
Family Therapists (CAMFT)
:

CAMFT is an independent professional organization of 31,000 members
representing the interests of marriage and family therapists. It is
dedicated to advancing the profession, maintaining high standards of
professional ethics, upholding the qualifications for the profession and
expanding awareness of the profession. For more information, contact
CAMFT at http://www.camft.org/IAS/COS/Default.aspx.

Contacts

Scott Public Relations
Joy Scott, 818-610-0270
joy@scottpublicrelations.com