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National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Applauds the Leadership of Representatives Patrick Kennedy and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Addressing the Workforce Crisis in Children's Mental Health

April 13, 2006

Far too many families in our nation know firsthand about the severe shortage of child and adolescent mental health providers.  Parents and caregivers routinely face long delays in securing mental health services for their child, even when the child is experiencing the significant day-to-day struggles of living with a serious mental illness.  Many communities fail to have any children's mental health professionals available for children and families. The magnitude of the workforce shortage and the toll that it takes on children, parents and communities recently received considerable media attention.

On March 30th, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an amendment (H.R. 609), sponsored by Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), which allows child and adolescent mental health professionals to be eligible for loan forgiveness.  The Senate companion bill, entitled the Higher Education Amendments Act (S. 1614), is likely to be taken up by the full Senate in late April or May.

This is a first step in the right direction; however more must be done to address this crisis.  NAMI calls on Congress to enact The Healthcare Crisis Relief Act (HR 1106/S. 537), federal legislation designed to help end the severe shortage of child and adolescent mental health providers.  This legislation includes the loan forgiveness provision; however it also includes other essential provisions that promise to address the workforce shortage. To learn more about this legislation, click here.

Action Requested

NAMI leaders, members and friends are urged to contact their Senate and House representatives to ask for their support and co-sponsorship of The Healthcare Crisis Relief Act (H.R. 1106/S. 537).  We will send an alert out when the Senate takes up a vote on the Higher Education Amendments Act, which includes the loan forgiveness provision recently passed by the House.

All members of Congress can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.  District and Washington office numbers can be found in the blue pages of your local phone book or through www.congress.org.

Thank you for your important advocacy work on this issue!


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