REPS. JOHNSON, CÁRDENAS, AND SOTO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES FOR MINORITY COMMUNITIES
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), and Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09) released the following statement on the introduction of H.R. 1331, the Strengthening Mental Health Supports for BIPOC Communities Act:
“As a former chief psychiatric nurse, I am especially concerned with how mental health disparities among communities of color have worsened because of the lack of culturally tailored resources,” said Congresswoman Johnson. “For that reason, I am proud to reintroduce the Strengthening Mental Health Supports for BIPOC Communities Act with my colleagues Reps. Cárdenas and Soto. This critical legislation would increase our federal investments in mental health services for minority communities across the country.”
“For too long, people have been battling mental illness alone. Right now, one in five adults and one in six children in America live with mental illness,” added Congressman Cárdenas. “We know mental health conditions are underreported and untreated. We all know someone who is struggling, and everyone is either directly or indirectly affected by mental health disorders. While the percentage of people affected by mental health disorders is relatively the same across racial and ethnic groups, people of color are less likely to receive mental health treatment due to a lack of access to support services and cultural stigma. We must remove the stigma surrounding mental health from our communities and ensure that everyone has access to mental healthcare and to show those who are struggling that they are not alone.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic and recent racial injustices have exposed long-standing and deeply rooted mental health disparities among communities of color,” said Congressman Soto. “Despite the challenges, cultural misconceptions, language barriers and underfunded programs have led many to underestimate the effects of mental health and the need for care. Congressman Cardenas and I are introducing this legislation to ensure states have the resources they need to provide culturally responsive mental health treatment to BIPOC communities. Together, we can break the barriers of stigma and historical adversity and ensure our communities thrive both physically and mentally.”
The Strengthening Mental Health Supports for BIPOC Communities Act improves access to health services for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to make critical advancements in health equity for communities of color by improving access to mental health services under the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) program. It requires state plans to report to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) information related to services provided that address health inequities within BIPOC communities and outcomes experienced, outreach to and hiring of BIPOC providers from multiple disciplines of mental health services, and training to providers on culturally and linguistically responsive services.