The Last Mental Health and Sexual Assault Laws of 2016

This year, we had a few laws and regulations that protect the rights of those who live with mental illness and/or have undergone sexual assault. So as we go into the year 2017, get to know some of these new laws and acts:

  • Mental Health Reform Legislation (S. 2680/H.R. 2646)
  • The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646)
  • Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680)
  • The 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34)
  • Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights (H.R. 5578)
  • Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2577)

Mental Health

Mental Health Reform Legislation

The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (H.R. 2680) is basically updated version of the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1945). Some of these points in the 2015 Act included:

  • Screening and early intervention
  • Community-based systems of care
  • Enhancing the behavioral health workforce
  • Innovation to develop new evidence-based programs
  • Elevation of behavioral health in the federal government, including increased coordination

The new act, The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, does not just include the items mentioned above, but additional points as well:

  • Inclusion of specific dollar authorizations and increased funding for historically effective programs
  • Preservation of Protection and Advocacy’s flexibility to promote recovery and non-discrimination for individuals with serious mental illness, not only to prevent abuse and neglect
  • Additional support for parity enforcement and transparency
  • Additional funding for the behavioral health workforce, including peer specialists

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 (HR.2646) has also been updated from the 2015 version of The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

  • Screening and early intervention
  • Community-based systems of care
  • Enhancing the behavioral health workforce
  • Integration of health and behavioral health care
  • Enforcement of parity in coverage between health and health services
  • Incentives for Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) rather than mandates
  • Elevation of behavioral health in the federal government, increased coordination of services
  • Suicide prevention based on the Garrett Smith Lee Smith Act Reauthorization
  • Clarifies health privacy laws, so mental health professionals, families and individuals know their rights
  • Strengthens community crisis response system (e.g. provides specialized training to law enforcement, corrections officers and first responders in responding to people with mental illness)
  • Help support integration of health and mental health care, so people get care that treats the whole person, not just one condition.

The 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6)

This act helps reduce the obstacles for that prevent individuals and/or their families seek mental health services and treatments, ensures that every community is able to obtain exceptional services and that those services will put a spotlight on enhancing mental health results. In addition to these new actions, the act enforces various federal services, who service individuals  live with mental health issues, to work together and help stop the discriminatory behaviors that keeps people from seeking mental health services and services and the act will assist individuals living with mental health in jails and prisons.

Sexual Assault

The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights  (H.R. 5578)

This bill, promoted by Amanda Nguyen, helps local governments to be further involved in sexual assault and rape cases and helps survivors not to, in a sense, pay for what has been upon them:

  • Survivors can no longer be charged fees or prevented from getting a rape kit examination, even if they have not yet decided to file a police report

*Once the medical examination is completed, the kits must be preserved, at no cost to the survivor, until the applicable statute of limitations runs out.

  • Survivors will now be able to request that authorities notify them before destroying their rape kits, and they have the right to request that the evidence be preserved.

*Once the kit is tested they’ll also have the right to be notified of important results—including a DNA profile match and toxicology report.

  • Authorities must also inform survivors of these rights [as mentioned above], regardless of whether they decide to pursue legal action against an assailant.
  • The Act also creates a task force to examine how well the new regulations work

The Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2577)

Before President Obama ended his term (because who’s to say that Trump would have signed and/or supported this act; but if he did, it would be hypocritical), he made sure that this Act would be around to help those effected by sexual assault and provide extensive resources to prevent and respond to crimes and sexual violence. The details of this document entails:

  • The Targeting the Nation’s Rape Kit Backlog

*Ensuring that at least 75% of funds go towards direct testing purposes

*Supporting the inventorying of untested rape kits

*Supporting states’ hiring of full-time Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), particularly in rural and underserved areas

  • The Strengthening Crime Victims’ Rights and Services

* Improving the administration of criminal justice programs by requiring the Justice Department to assist state and local government to improve their indigent defense systems

*Ensuring continuity of life-saving victim services on the national level

*Increasing victims’ access to restitution

* Strengthening the Prison Rape Elimination Act by improving accountability measures to ensure states enact rape reduction policies and protecting VAWA funding streams that are critical to their crime prevention and victim support efforts.

  • The Maximizing the Potential of DNA

* Renewing the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing program, which provides funding to states to help defray costs associated with post-conviction DNA testing.

*Supporting crime laboratories by reauthorizing the Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Program, which supports efforts to improve states’ crime lab policies and practices.

Whew! That was a lot of stuff, but I didn’t want you and/or your loved ones to go into the new year without knowing your rights toward mental health and/or sexual assault.

If you look below, those links you see are the sites I used to write up all this information. But if you would like to know more about these laws, just click on the link(s):

Mental Health 

A Closer Look At Mental Health Reform Legislation

H.R. 2646: Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015

Mental Health Reform Legislation (S. 2680/H.R. 2646)

NAMI Celebrates Senate Passage of HR 34

S. 2680: Mental Health Reform Act of 2016

The Top 10 Facts About The Mental Health Reform Legislation in the 114th Congress

Sexual Assault 

Congress Passes Justice for All Act; Heads to the President’s Desk for Signature

Obama Just Signed a Bill of Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors. Finally

President Obama Signs Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights Into Law

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s