CAMFT Leadership Visits Capitol Hill to Lobby for Mental Health Legislation as
Shots Fired on the Grounds
~ Event Underscores Need to Pass Expanded Mental Health Services Legislation ~
SAN DIEGO, CA. (March 30, 2016)–In a frightening sequence of events
on Monday, leaders of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
(CAMFT), a 32,000 member professional organization, found themselves and
congressional staffers ordered by Capitol Police to “shelter in place” after
shots were fired at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. The traumatic experience
left the delegation of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) with
sober insight of a patient’s emotional distress from such an event.
CAMFT members are in the nation’s capital this week to lobby for legislation,
including provisions for increased mental health coverage under Medicare
and for veterans.
“CAMFT’s delegation of 14 Licensed and Marriage and Family Therapists
from California lobbied representatives to co-sponsor and support the Mental
Health Access Improvement Act of 2015 (HR 2759/S. 1830) and Marriage and
Family Therapists for Veterans Act (HR 2639) bills,” said Laura C.
Strom, LMFT and CAMFT President.
The need for expanded mental health coverage is imperative, especially amongst
the Medicare population. HR 2759/S. 1830 allows LMFTs to serve as Medicare
providers for this population. This would not only increase access to mental
health care, but would also result in savings to the Medicare program by
providing Medicare beneficiaries with a lower-cost mental health care option
and beneficial alternative to costly in-patient services,” said Strom.
Regarding HR 2639, Strom noted, “There is a barrier keeping 95% of
LMFTs in California from working at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
This bill would remove the barrier and help ease the shortage of mental health
providers in the VA. Our veterans deserve greater access to mental health
Monday’s shooting underscores the importance of President Obama’s
recent proposal to appropriate $500 million to expand mental health services.
The appropriation, if funded by Congress, would be part of the Administration’s
“The President’s executive action addresses the critical gap between
the millions of Americans who have mental health problems and our ability
as a nation to help these individuals,” said Strom. “As an organization
dedicated to providing mental health services, CAMFT recognizes thousands
of local residents need this specialized care. We understand the effects
of mental illness on families and neighborhoods, and are experts in treating
and managing conditions ranging from addiction to depression to problems
related to trauma and many others.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that 43.8 million
adults have some type of mental or behavioral health issue, yet only 41 percent
of these adults are receiving treatment; one in five have a mental health
CAMFT encourages Californians to utilize the Association’s vast network
of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. “We are committed to raising
awareness of the prevalence of mental health conditions in our communities,
including erasing stigma, and are uniquely positioned to help address these
critical needs,” Strom said.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists are mental health professionals who
work with individuals including children, teens, and adults, couples, families,
and groups to treat mental, emotional, traumatic, and relational distress
of all kinds. LMFTs work in a variety of settings throughout California.
LMFTs have acquired two-year master’s degrees, 3,000 hours of supervised
experience, and have passed two rigorous exams. Their extensive training
includes treatment of trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, grief, and
For more information on mental health and access to therapists who can help
manage life’s challenges, visit CounselingCalifornia.com.