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Ayotte Votes in Support of Legislation to Improve Mental Health System

Apr 18, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the U.S. Senate today debated legislation aimed at preventing gun violence, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) voted in favor of an amendment that would help improve mental health first aid training and increase the effectiveness of mental health care across the nation. The bipartisan amendment, offered by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), includes key provisions of legislation Senator Ayotte helped introduce - the Begich-Ayotte-Blumenthal Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013 (S. 153). The amendment passed, 95 to 2.

"Our bipartisan legislation takes an important first step toward addressing gaps in our mental health system," said Senator Ayotte. "Given the connections between mass violence and mental illness, improving mental health training for those who work in our schools, communities and emergency personnel will give them the tools they need to identify warning signs and help individuals get treatment."

Ken Norton, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-New Hampshire, said, "The Mental Health Awareness and Prevention Act includes provisions that help address mental health treatment challenges here in New Hampshire. This bill is a very helpful initiative that takes important steps to improve our nation's mental health system."

The measure provides support for training programs to help the public identify, understand, and address crisis situations safely. The legislation also calls for protocols to increase familiarity with mental health services available in local communities. The measure would provide grants for mental health awareness training programs for groups of individuals such as teachers, first responders, police officers, school and college administrators, veterans, and nurses.

Senator Ayotte is also a cosponsor of the bipartisan Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act (S. 162) - focused on providing training and resources for law enforcement and other community partners to help them identify individuals with mental health issues and make sure they receive proper treatment.

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