In Mount Vernon, Larsen Leads Roundtable Discussion on Mental Health & Substance Abuse

Aug 16, 2016 Issues: Health Care, Social Services

MOUNT VERNON, WA—Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) today held a roundtable discussion with North Sound Behavioral Health Organization, Evergreen Recovery Centers, and the Snohomish County and Whatcom County Departments of Health on recent changes to mental health and substance abuse programs in Washington state.

“It is time we change the discussion around addiction and mental illness – which are not moral failings but rather health issues that require treatment,” Larsen said. “I am going to keep fighting in Congress until our communities have the resources they need to fight substance abuse and until we pass legislation to reform and improve how we address mental health.”

In Washington, roughly 600 people die annually due to opioids – a figure that increased by 31 percent between 2002 and 2013.

Last month, Larsen helped pass the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, legislation that makes critical reforms to address the nation’s opioid epidemic. The bill includes reforms Larsen has called for including expanding access to lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drugs and improving pain management and prescription practices. However, the bill does not fulfill President Obama’s $1.1 billion funding request for addressing the opioid epidemic which Larsen pressed for earlier this year.

Larsen is also the co-sponsor of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 which passed the House in July. This legislation would fund additional psychiatric hospital beds and give family members a greater role in working with mental health professionals to develop a loved one’s care plan. The bill also provides law enforcement officers the training to recognize the signs of mental illness and the tools to connect individuals with mental health services as an alternative to incarceration.