Durbin Initiatives to Improve Mental Health Services & Combat Prescription Opioid Abuse Included in Committee Passed Legislation

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that his legislation to improve mental health services on college campuses – Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act – and his initiative to require better FDA oversight of opioids that he originally introduced as an amendment to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) were included in the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 that was passed by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions earlier today. 


“These two important initiatives will help provide critical services to those in need of mental health care and help combat this prescription opioid crisis confronting our nation,” said Durbin.  “I am hopeful that, before the end of the year, the full Senate will take up and pass bipartisan legislation that includes these provisions.”


“Our country is facing an urgent mental health crisis that demands real solutions,” said U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) who introduced the Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act in the House of Representatives. “Campuses should be ground zero in our efforts to combat mental health issues, including suicide, depression, substance abuse and even episodes of gun violence. Yet, many colleges and universities are not equipped to provide mental health awareness, screening, and services. I’m incredibly pleased that the Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act was included in Mental Health Reform Act passed by the HELP Committee today.  This much-needed legislation would provide the resources needed to get direct mental health services and outreach to students and families. I’m proud to join Senator Durbin and my colleagues in promoting this sound investment to improve students’ access to mental health services and keep campuses healthy and safe.”


Initiatives included in today’s Mental Health Reform Act of 2016:


Improve Mental Health on Colleges Campuses – the bipartisan Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act which Durbin introduced in the Senate with U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) would provide funding to colleges to focus on stigma and awareness, outreach, and direct treatment of students with mental health needs. College students face a potentially stressful transition into new academic and social environments, and many may confront mental health concerns for the first time.  In fact, within the past year, 57% of students report having felt overwhelming anxiety, 35% felt so depressed it was difficult to function, and 48% felt hopeless.  Yet only 12% of enrolled students seek counseling and only 15% of college and university students who commit suicide received campus counseling.  More on the legislation can be found HERE


Combat Heroin & Opioid Abuse with Reform – Earlier this month, Durbin introduced an amendment to the CARA that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to convene an expert Advisory Committee meeting before approving any new opioid for sale in the United States; to make sure Pediatric Advisory Committees provide input and recommendations before opioids are approved for use in children; to develop recommendations  on what continuing medical education program prescribers of opioids should be required to take (and how often); and to encourage the development of abuse-deterrent formulations of these drugs. While CARA passed the Senate, it did not include Senator Durbin’s amendment.