the advocacy monitor

Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Act Now to Stop H.R. 3717: Force Is Not Recovery!

On December 12, 2013 Representative Tim Murphy (R) of the 18th District of Pennsylvania introduced  H.R. 3717, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013. If passed, this bill would reverse major advances of the last 30 years in mental health services and supports.

Force Is Not Recovery 2012 protest signNCIL stands firmly against this bill. Please take the time to read  NCIL’s legislative summary (PDF or  plain text), which outlines the numerous threats to the civil liberties of Americans with disabilities contained in this legislation.

In short, H.R. 3717 would:

  • Ensure that doctors and the health industry are in charge of mental health policy rather than consumers
  • Cut support for peer support programs
  • Lead to fewer individuals receiving the treatment they desire and need
  • Coerce states financially to require involuntary “treatment” for people who are “gravely disabled” and make other changes to commitment laws
  • Make it easier to discriminate against people who have a mental health diagnosis in housing, employment, and education
  • Limit the ability of Protection and Advocacy systems to protect people with mental health diagnosis

Take Action

While your Representatives are home for the winter break, call, write, or send them an email. Identify yourself as a constituent and urge your Representative: “Please do not support or sponsor H.R. 3717, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013!”

Then, ask your family, friends, co-workers and other community members to do the same! For more information, or to report the response you received from your Representative, please contact Shoshanna Fawley at 602-296-0592 or [email protected].


  1. Scott Pirtle says

    Are you sure this Republican is trying to use force? I have a mental illness, and I read H.R. 3717 myself. I think the campaign to fight stigma sounded good, and the educational grants for the disabled interested in higher learning, etc. The idea that he wants more money put into mental health care is another good thing. Is all this about the anti-lobbying? I’m a liberal too!

  2. Anonymous family member says

    Your summary completely misrepresents the legislation. Take a look at this instead:

  3. Background: HR 3717 Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

    HR 3713 (introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy on 12/12/13) is the first bill to (1) focus on serious mental ‘illness’ and (2) to address multiple systemic problems in federal mental health policy that favor the largest number of the highest functioning but leave the most seriously unserved.

    Focus on treating the seriously mentally ill, not improving the mental health of all others.

    HR 3717 reorients the $204 billion US Mental Health budget towards treating the 5-8% who are most seriously mentally ill and away from loosely defined, non-evidenced based programs designed to “improve the mental health” of all others.

    HR 3717 attempts to end mission-creep by instilling mission control.

    This is the best way to improve care, reduce violence, sucide, victimization, homelessness, hospitalization, incarceration and needless tragedies. It saves money by reducing the use of hospitals and jails to serve people who can live in less expensive community settings.

    Put another way, the problem is not that we don’t spend enough, it is that we don’t spend it efficiently.

  4. Why does HR3717, Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act Prioritize the Seriously Mentally Ill?

    There are now two mental health systems in the United States. One is run by traditional mental health departments and serves the highest functioning. For ex. ending “bullying” is the new cause celebre of the traditional mental health system. The other mental health system is run by criminal justice and serves the most seriously ill. There are three times as many Americans incarcerated for mental illness as there are in psychiatric hospitals. The traditional mental health system largely ignores the most seriously ill causing their transfer to criminal justice. That is a ‘success’ for the mental health system: one less person they have to treat.

    The US Mental Budget is largely spent to improve mental health (make people happier) not to provide treatment to the most seriously mentally ill. We send the worried-well to the front of the line for services and the seriously mentally ill to jails shelters, prisons and morgues. There has been intensive, massive, mission-creep as every life experience is medicalized. This intentional, disastrous and massive migration has caused our mental health system to be simultaneously expensive and disastrous and dangerous.

  5. Hr 3717 Removes HIPAA Handcuffs and Reforms FERPA so parents can get info they need to help provide care to seriously mentally ill loved ones.

    HIPAA and FERPA are patient confidentiality laws that prevent the disclosure of medical information to parents of persons with mental illenss. Hence parents are unaware of diagnosis, treatment, appointments, and oher info they need to provide care to loved ones and prevent their needless deterioration. HR 3717 carves out an exemption in HIPAA and FERPA so caregivers can receive important information about a mentally ill loved ones diagnosis, treatment and prognosis if that information is needed by the mom or dad to protect the health, safety or welfare of their family member

  6. HR 3717 Preserve enough psychiatric hospital beds for patients with serious mental illness who need them.

    There is a nationwide shortage of at least 95,000 beds for people with serious mental illness. This is largely due to an obscure provision of Medicaid law called the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Exclusion. It basically tells states, “if you kick someone with mental illness out of your state hospital, we (the federal government, through Medicaid) will pay half the cost of any community care you provide. So the states lock the front door and kick people out the back to make them Medicaid eligible, no matter how inappropriate the discharge is. HR 3717 makes two narrowly tailored exceptions to the IMD Exclusion, to remove the federal incentive to provide substandard care.

  7. HR 3717 funds pilot Assisted Outpatient Treatment Programs.

    HR 3717 provides pilot funds for states that want to set up AOT programs. AOT allows judges to order very narrowly defined individuals-only those who have a past histroy of arrest, violence, or needless hospitalization caused by failure to stay in treatment-to stay in mandatory and monitored treatment as a condition of living in the community. It is not an alternative to voluntary treatment, it is only used when that fails.Assisted Outpatient Treatment has dramatically reduced arrest, violence, sucide, hospitalization and homeless in every state that has used it. HR 3717 reqires states to have AOT on books (although not to use it), in order to receive Community Mental Health Service Block Grant funds and allocates $15 million for pilot program funding of up to 50 AOTprograms per year.

  8. Matthew, gee thanks for the extensive copy paste session….

    Some who have commented don’t see the wolf in wool here- this bill would deny legal representation, violate civil rights, and undermine patient privacy….yeah, it sounds like more funding, it sounds like help, but it will only fortify coercive practices. Ive experienced hellish conditions in mental health care and have had to petition courts for my release, fighting for my rights….this bill will make that harder to do, unthinkable!

    • So what you are saying is…We need more James Holmes’s, Adam Lanza’s and Jared Loughner’s not getting the help they need?
      Wow…Sorry but I do not agree.