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Excellence in Mental Health Act

 

Individuals suffering from mental health challenges deal not just with their illness, but also with the social stigma attached to people with mental illnesses. While society often goes to great lengths to accommodate and include people with physical illness – treating them with solicitude and concern, persons with mental illness are too frequently the objects of ridicule, contempt, or fear.  The Excellence in Mental Health Act (S. 264 / H.R. 1263) addresses these challenges, creating criteria for establishing community behavioral health centers, making such centers eligible for payments for services under Medicaid, and awarding matching grants to states or Indian tribes to expend funds for the construction or modernization of facilities used to provide community-based mental health and substance abuse services to individuals.


 

Jewish Values:

Judaism through its concern for spiritual health emphasizes the importance of mental health as well as physical health. Indeed, when we say the mi sh’beirach prayer for the sick, we pray for a refuah sheleimah--a complete recovery--and further specify refuat ha-nefesh u'refuat haguf, a healing of the soul and the body.

Maimonides wrote, “When one is overpowered by imagination, prolonged meditation and avoidance of social contact, which he never exhibited before, or when one avoids pleasant experiences which were in him before, the physician should do nothing before he improves the soul by removing the extreme emotions.” Our tradition recognizes a distinction between mental and physical health, but views them equally, recognizing that both are necessary for us to be complete.

Take Action:

The Excellence in Mental Health Act (S. 264 / H.R. 1263) establishes criteria for creating community behavioral health centers, makes such centers eligible for payments for services under Medicaid, and awards matching grants to states or Indian tribes to expend funds for the construction or modernization of facilities used to provide community-based mental health and substance abuse services to individuals. The bill was passed in a 95-2 vote as an amendment to a gun violence prevention bill earlier this year. However, with that legislation currently stalled, it is important to encourage congress to work to pass the mental health bill independently.

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