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Rep. Porter Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Expand Mental Health Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

Congresswoman’s legislation would help meet skyrocketing demand for mental and behavioral health services

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today reintroduced legislation to address the rising need for mental and behavioral health services caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Stopping the Mental Health Pandemic Act, which passed the House last year, would strengthen the efforts of state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and service providers to tackle behavioral health needs related to COVID-19. Companion legislation will be introduced by Senators Tina Smith (MN) and Lisa Murkowski (AK).

“Caring for our mental health is just as important as caring for our physical health, especially during a pandemic.” Congresswoman Porter said. “Millions of Americans are isolated, and countless others are mourning the loss of loved ones to COVID-19. It remains critically important that we equip our communities with the tools they need to keep families safe, including resources to tackle the skyrocketing demand for mental and behavioral health services.”

“I hold the Senate seat that Paul Wellstone once held and take his legacy of voicing the importance of mental health very seriously,” Senator Tina Smith said. “During this deeply challenging time, we must ensure people get the mental health care they need. That’s why I’m glad to be leading the Senate companion to Rep. Porter’s legislation. This bill puts resources right where they’re needed—States, Tribes, and community organizations—to reach people who may need help.”

A bipartisan group of more than twenty members joined Congresswoman Porter in introducing this legislation, which is also supported by leading mental health advocacy organizations, including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), Kennedy Forum, Clinical Social Work Association, and the Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Congresswoman Porter has fought tirelessly to improve mental health care, and she has redoubled her efforts during the pandemic. In December, her legislation to hold insurance companies accountable for their legal obligation to cover mental health the same as other types of care was signed into law. Last February, she invited Dr. Heather Huszti, Chief Psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), as her guest to the State of the Union to highlight the importance of pediatric mental health.