Recruiting Champions for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders on Capitol Hill

Science Policy staff worked along with other Public Policy Office staff, the Government Relations Office in the Practice Directorate, and CEO Norman Anderson to draft letters urging members of the House of Representatives to join two House Caucuses that we hope will raise the profile of mental health and substance use disorders in what will likely be a very tight budgetary climate during the next congress.

Science Policy staff worked along with other Public Policy Office staff, the Government Relations Office in the Practice Directorate, and CEO Norman Anderson to draft letters urging members of the House of Representatives to join two House Caucuses that we hope will raise the profile of mental health and substance use disorders in what will likely be a very tight budgetary climate during the next congress.

The Congressional Mental Health Caucus, founded in 2003, is a bipartisan group of House Members concerned about mental health services and research issues. In addition to helping inform Representatives and their staffs about mental health issues, its members work to improve the accessibility and quality of mental health care. The caucus, Co-Chaired by Representatives Tim Murphy (one of four PhD psychologists in the House) and Grace Napolitano, had 80 Members in the 108th Congress, but only five were Republican, so Republican membership recruitment will be particularly important for 2005.

The Congressional Caucus on Addiction, Treatment and Recovery, founded in 2004, serves as a groundbreaking forum for Members of Congress and their staff to discuss problems associated with addiction and promote solutions to these problems. The primary purpose of the Caucus is to inform, educate and raise awareness about chemical addiction and promote access to treatment and recovery. The Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Jim Ramstad and Patrick Kennedy, had 56 members in the 108th, and with 15 Republicans will likewise seek greater participation by Republicans in the 109th.

Tailored letters from Dr. Anderson were sent to the 335 members who belonged to neither Caucus, the 62 members who belonged to the Congressional Mental Health Caucus but not the Congressional Caucus on Addiction, Treatment and Recovery, and the 38 members who belonged to the Congressional Caucus on Addiction, Treatment and Recovery but not the Congressional Mental Health Caucus.