NEW YORK, May 13, 2021 — Yesterday, an important milestone in mental health equity was reached when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D, New Jersey) and Rep. John Katko (R, New York), on a bipartisan basis. It had passed the House last year and was reintroduced in the current Congress earlier this year. In a press release, Rep. Watson Coleman’s office announced:
Today, by a vote of 349-74, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1475, the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act, bipartisan legislation authored by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and introduced by Watson Coleman and Rep. John Katko (NY-24) to address the disparities in access, care and study of mental health issues among people of color. The bill, written following nine months of work by the Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health, authorizes $805 million in grants and other funding to support research, improving the pipeline of culturally competent providers, build outreach programs that reduce stigma, and develop a training program for providers to effectively manage disparities.
“This is a huge step, and one we’ve been building toward since launching the emergency taskforce in April of 2019. When I began this work, it was out of a desire to bring federal resources to bear in what was clearly becoming a crisis – resources for awareness, for research, for education and more,” said Rep. Watson Coleman, who chaired the Emergency Taskforce. “We put together a working group of experts, released a report, and finally introduced this bill to ring the alarm and force everyone to pay attention. This bill will give us the tools to address mental health for all communities, and I’m grateful to see it move on to the Senate.”
The McSilver Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Michael A. Lindsey led the working group of experts who supported the Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health, which produced a report that helped to inform the bill’s writers. Dr. Lindsey is quoted in Rep. Watson Coleman’s press release about the passage:
The COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice that we’ve experienced since last spring have only intensified alarming trends that we were already seeing in suicidal behaviors among Black people. The passage of the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act in the U.S. House of Representatives today brings us one crucial step closer to much-needed funding of resources for the mental health needs of hard-hit communities of color, as well as enabling more clinical research and interventions. We are grateful to Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, the bill’s co-sponsors and the Congressional Black Caucus for taking action to save lives.
Read more about the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act in Rep. Watson Coleman’s press release.
Learn more about the McSilver Institute’s research and policy advocacy relating to Black youth suicide and mental health.
About the NYU McSilver Institute
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