Bilirakis Honored by NAMI Pasco County for Work to Improve Access to Mental Health Care
Bilirakis (second from left) is presented the “Legislator of the Year” award by NAMI Pasco County.
As we recognize National Mental Health Awareness Week, U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis yesterday was honored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Pasco County chapter for his work in Congress to help reform the nation’s mental health system and improve access to care for those suffering from mental illness. Bilirakis was presented with the group’s “Legislator of the Year” award.
“Our nation’s mental health system is broken, allowing too many people to fall through the cracks. This year, I was proud to join the efforts in Congress to advance the biggest overhaul of the federal mental health system in decades, and also to expand access to mental health care for Veterans,” said Bilirakis. “I’d like to thank NAMI Pasco County for their efforts to help people suffering from mental illness across our area. Their work helps break the stigma associated with mental health and provides strong support for patients and their families. I am honored to receive their Legislator of the Year award, and will continue to work with NAMI and my colleagues in Congress to ensure positive change in our country’s approach to mental health care.”
In July, Bilirakis supported the House passage of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), the most significant reform of the national mental health system in decades. It includes provisions to fix the patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies across federal agencies, and encourages new innovative, evidence-based programs in communities around the country. H.R. 2646 passed the House 422-2 with overwhelming bipartisan support, and is currently being considered by the Senate.
Additionally, two of Bilirakis’s bills, the COVER Act and the PROMISE Act, recognize that one size does not fit all when it comes to the mental health needs of our nation’s Veterans. These bills expand access to alternative treatments and therapies, require the use of best prescribing practices within the VA, and empower the patient to have a voice in developing his or her treatment plan as part of more individualized approach. Both the COVER Act and the PROMISE Act have been signed into law.