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Dr. Welner Testifies in Congress on Serious Mental Illness and Family in Wake of Isla Vista Massacre


In the wake of the mass killing at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, chaired by Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA), held a hearing to discuss their findings following an investigation of federal programs that address severe mental illness.  Dr. Welner testified on a range of important considerations of crisis mental health and public safety, including the role of denial in preventing policy advances, the potential of families as treatment extenders, how HIPAA and commitment laws contribute to bad outcomes in crisis, the limits of physician decision-making capabilities, the need to give intimates and families more influence in mandating treatment to those in denial, the need to promote crisis psychiatry as an economic growth area, and the need to promote psychiatry with the same energy as the Affordable care Act, in order to diminish stigma and improve doctor-patient collaboration. He was joined at the hearing by D.J. Jaffe, Founder and Executive Director of Mental Illness Policy Org., and Edward Kelley, whose son suffers from severe mental illness. 


Rep. Murphy has proposed H.R. 3717, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013,  which addresses crisis psychiatry and proposes steps to more directly engage and empower families in crisis management and decision-making for a loved one who suffers from severe mental illness. Dr. Welner has consulted on the formulation of the legislation and strongly supports its passage, noting that it is the only bill before Congress that specifically engages mental health crisis and its solutions.


Watch full testimony below: