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Archive for Action Alert

Take Action for Mental Health Reform

#PassS2680#MentalHealthReform (1)

 

by Kitty Westin, eating disorder activist

The last time I wrote to you was on July 7; I was hardly able to contain my excitement! It was the day after the United States House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (422 to 2) in favor of mental health reform, which included provisions from the Anna Westin Act. At the time I told you I believed that after a 16-year marathon we were nearing the finish line. After 16 years of hard work and the commitment of thousands of grassroots advocates we were close to passing the first eating disorders specific legislation in the history of the US Congress. As I watched House Member after House Member vote “yes” I allowed myself to hope and to believe that this long journey was coming to an end.

Today, I am writing to give you an update and ask you to join me in a vitally important effort to push our bill past the finish line. The finish line is still in sight and I am still hopeful that we will reach it. However, if we hope to cross it before the 114th Congress adjourns at the end of the year we need to rally the troops and make one final epic effort.

The Eating Disorders Coalition is organizing a Virtual Action Day on August 30th. We are asking people from across the United States to contact their Senators. This is a national effort involving several prominent advocacy organization and thousands of individuals. We are collaborating with APA, MHA, APA, NAMI, and Sandy Hook Promise to do a unified virtual action week…with the eating disorders community and Sandy Hook Promise’s day being August 30th. Let’s show the Senate how active, committed, involved and vocal the eating disorders community is! Every voice is important and every voice matters.

We need to put A LOT of pressure on the Senate to pass the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680) this September. The Eating Disorders Coalition was able to get provisions from the Anna Westin Act into the Senate bill and when S. 2680 passes so does our language! There are other issues that the Senate will be considering when they reconvene in September and we need to make certain that mental health reform is a top priority.

Because this is an election year the Fall session will be very short, only a few weeks. With the uncertainty of the election season we must make our voices heard. We need you to encourage your networks, families, friends, neighbors…the mail man…everyone to participate!

The EDC makes it easy and quick to email or call your Senators.

We are targeting ALL Senators and we are putting extra effort to reach Senate Majority leadership and Senators in re-election campaigns. The following Senators are key: McConnell (Kentucky), Alexander (Tennessee), Ayotte (New Hampshire), Toomey (Pennsylvania), Kirk (Illinois), Johnson (Wisconsin), Burr (North Carolina), Rubio (Florida), Murkowski (Alaska), and Portman (Ohio). We’re also targeting Senator Minority leadership—Reid (Nevada), Schumer (New York), Franken (Minnesota), Klobuchar (Minnesota), Stabenow (Michigan), and Warren (Virginia).

Please help us cross the finish line. The time is now and with your help we can get this done. Mental health reform will help countless Americans who are struggling with mental health issues including millions of people who suffer from eating disorders. I promise that I will send photos from the Senate Chamber in September when the bill passes and standing next to President Obama as he signs it into law!

With deep gratitude,

Kitty

One Giant Leap

Guest Blog Post by Kitty Westin.

One giant leap for the eating disorders community.

-Jenna Tregarthen, Recovery Record.

I was glued to my TV Wednesday afternoon, watching C-SPAN, as the US House debated the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, HR2646. As members from both parties stood up and proclaimed their support for the bill I dared to hope that it might actually pass. I slowly allowed myself to believe that after a 16-year marathon we were getting close to the finish line, the first of several finish lines. When the votes started coming in I held my breath but soon dissolved into tears as the YES votes multiplied. When the votes were in, the total was 422 yes votes to 2 no votes. In this very partisan Congress this was amazing in itself. But, the more amazing news is that provisions from the Anna Westin Act were included in the bill! For the first time in the history of the United Sates Congress, eating disorder specific legislation passed the US House.  The bill includes key pieces of the Anna Westin Act including the following:

 

Information and Awareness on Eating Disorders, which allows for the update of public information, resources and prevention programs related to eating disorders to include current findings and research for the advancement of public awareness about the types of eating disorders, the prevalence and consequences of eating disorders, and ways to prevent eating disorders.

Education and Training on Eating Disorders to facilitate the identification of programs to educate and train health professionals and school personnel to identify eating disorders, intervene early and provide appropriate referral or treatment services.

Clarification of Existing Parity Rules, such that if a group health plan or insurance company provides coverage for eating disorder benefits, including residential treatment, the insurance issuer must provide the benefits consistent with insurance laws.

This was indeed a giant step and a victory for us but we are not done. Now it is on to the Senate. The Senate has a mental health reform bill that they will vote on in September. The good news is that Anna Westin Act language is included in the Senate mental health reform bill. Once the bill passes the Senate, both bills go to what is called “Conference Committee”. The Conference Committee includes people from the House and the Senate. They are charged with creating a combined bill that will go to the President for his signature.

We are close! Thank you to each and every one of you who has provided support in this journey.  I am hopeful that very soon a 16 year long journey will come to a successful end and we will have Federal legislation that addresses eating disorders.

For more information about The Anna Westin Act and HR2646 go to; www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org.

Anna Westin Act needs your support!

Today as the Foundation and the Eating Disorders Coalition lobby in Washington, D.C., we need advocates like YOU to call, email, tweet, and post to Members of Congress to sign on to the Anna Westin Act.

The Eating Disorders Coalition made it super easy to do, taking only about 1-2 minutes. The links below will provide you with a pre-written email and word-by-word phone script.

VLD Spring 2016

Mental Health Day on the Hill

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Come advocate with us to increase the awareness of eating disorders in the mental health community and support mental health policy change.



MHDOH

For more information visit:
www.namihelps.org or www.mentalhealthmn.org

Contact Kiki Schmit if you are interested in joining The Emily Program Foundation at the Mental Health Day on the Hill.

This post brought to you by:

Anna Westin Act Virtual Lobby Day Delayed until Thursday, January 28

Delayed Anna Westin Virtual Action Day