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To: Sen. Ron Wyden

Support S.764 - Ensuring Funding for Emergency Mental Health Crisis Response Teams

Support S.764 - Ensuring Funding for Emergency Mental Health Crisis Response Teams

Support Letter – S.764: CAHOOTS Act
June 14th, 2022
The Honorable Senator Ron Wyden
United States Senator for Oregon
221 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C., 20510
Re: SUPPORT--S.764: CAHOOTS Act: state Medicaid programs to cover certain community-based mobile crisis intervention services for individuals experiencing a mental health or substance-use disorder crisis outside of a facility setting.

Dear Sen. Wyden,
This letter is coming to you in means to express support for S.764: CAHOOTS Act, which will ensure state Medicaid programs cover certain community-based mobile crisis intervention services for individuals experiencing a mental health or substance-use disorder crisis outside of a facility setting.
Findings indicate that over reliance on law enforcement in the United States (US) has resulted in an overrepresentation of persons with mental illness in instances of police violence, arrest, and incarceration (Prins, 2014). This problem is prevalent throughout all communities in America; however, much of the existing research about police violence and incarceration against people with mental illness explores primarily urban areas. Johns Hopkins Medicine (2022) states that mental illness afflicts 26% of American adults, but the US prison population comprises of 50- 64% of mentally ill people (Bureau of Justice, 2006; Bronson, 2017).
As evidenced through several pilot programs, involving a mental health professional as a first responder in situations involving mental health issues can be very successful in preserving individual and societal interests. By first engaging with psychotherapeutic social services, the fear and agitation often associated with police presence is ameliorated (Teplin, 2000). Problems involving mental health issues can frequently be deescalated and resolved, and police involvement can be reserved as backup. Mental health crisis situations are health care issues but are being treated as public safety and criminal issues. The high rates of victimization, police violence, and inappropriate incarnation among persons with mental illness can be mitigated through the utilization of mobile social work interventions.

In the US, there is a growing discussion surrounding mental health, but there is still extensive stigma around it. This stigma, among other things, leads to continued violence (including police violence) against and incarceration of people with mental illnesses. While people with mental illnesses make up only one quarter of the United States population, it makes up half of the population in prisons. It also makes up one third of those killed by police (Bureau of Justice, 2006; Bronson, 2017). While the point of funding community-based mobile crisis intervention services for individuals experiencing a mental health or substance-use disorder crisis contributes to lowering these rates, it also starts to address the root causes of these alarming statistics. Having the crisis teams allows for people to recognize alternatives to police involvement, and to realize that things relating to mental illness need not be treated with violence. The other opportunity that these programs invite are the ability to redirect funding from police departments to mental health education and engagement. Police have been relied upon and militarized more and more, and money has been funneled in their direction (Teplin, 2000). By sending money that way, and when adding it to the above statistics about police involvement with the mentally ill, the US is, in essence, supporting violence against the mentally ill. By taking that money and instead directing it to programs like these, the narrative of how the country treats the mentally ill is able to change. Changing this narrative, both on a national and individual level, allows for steps forward and creates change in a world that has been woefully behind on its understanding of and treatment of the mentally ill.

For these reasons, we support S.764: CAHOOTS Act and respectfully request your “aye” vote so that our nation can continue to demonstrate commitment for individuals experiencing a mental health or substance-use disorder crisis and build a relevant network of services that is better suited to meet contemporary social and economic needs during these situations in the US.
Sincerely,

Why is this important?

Over reliance on law enforcement in the United States (US) has resulted in an overrepresentation of persons with mental illness in instances of police violence, arrest, and incarceration. Supporting this bill, which is currently under review in committee, will help cities and states throughout the country establish community-based mobile crisis intervention services for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. If you agree that this is a need for our country moving forward, please add your thoughts to this letter and send it either to your Senator, or to Senator Wyden, who chairs the subcommittee on finance which is reviewing the bill.

Updates

2022-06-29 12:30:26 -0400

100 signatures reached

2022-06-25 00:05:26 -0400

50 signatures reached

2022-06-21 14:13:41 -0400

25 signatures reached

2022-06-21 11:35:32 -0400

10 signatures reached