Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Clock Is Ticking On Children's Mental Health - Your Help Needed!


An Act Relative To Children's Mental Health (SB 2804) needs you to act now.  The 2007-08 legislative session ends July 31.  The bill is awaiting action by the House.  Please take a minute to either call or email your State Representative and ask him or her to move the legislation to the House floor. 

Phone call in 3 easy steps:
1)  Identify your State Rep- Visit, enter your home address, and look for "Rep in General Court". Click on the link to find his/her phone number.
2) Call and when the receptionist answers, ask to speak with your Representative. Most likely you will speak with an aide who will pass along your message to the Rep.
3) Deliver this message- "Please ask Chairman DeLeo (Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee) to move the Children's Mental Health bill (Senate Bill 2804) to the full House for a vote before next Thursday, July 31st! Please let me know whether the Representative will do this."

Click here to email your State Rep. The email text is already written. All you need to do is personalize the email, make sure your address is entered correctly, and click send.

Last week, the Senate unanimously passed SB 2804 following an emotional news conference.  At the media event, Senate President Murray, Speaker DiMasi, Senator Tolman, and Representative Balser all spoke in support of the legislation and the need for comprehensive reform of the children's mental health system. 
The Senate passed the bill in memory of Yolanda Torres, a young woman who testified in support of the legislation in May 2007.  Tragically, Yolanda took her own life earlier this year.  Her mother, Mary Ann Tufts, spoke at the press conference, asking the legislature to make something meaningful out of this tragedy. 
The Children's Mental Health Bill (SB 2804), sponsored by Rep. Ruth Balser and Senator Steven Tolman, will improve the systems of care for children living with mental illness by:

  • screening children early to identify developmental, mental health and substance abuse needs;
  • giving schools the tools to identify and manage children with mental health needs;
  • implementing policies for fixing the "stuck kids" problem by ensuring that children are in the most appropriate and least restrictive setting; and,
  • improving communication among state agencies to ensure coordination of care.
Visit for more information.

Mental Health Parity Pending Action By The Senate
The Mental Health Parity legislation that passed the House late last month (HB 4423) is awaiting action in the Senate.  This legislation also must be passed before the end of the legislative session on July 31 for it to become law this year. 
Phone calls to Senators are needed now.  Please call your State Senator and ask him or her to speak with Senate President Murray and ask her to bring the Mental Health Parity Bill to the Senate Floor before the end of the current session. 
Click here to find the contact information for your State Senator. 
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