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APA secures bipartisan introduction of Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act

APA works with Representative Ayanna Pressley to support bipartisan introduction of legislation that would expand mental health supports for survivors of natural disasters and terrorist attacks that do not receive a “major disaster” declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Cite this
American Psychological Association. (2021, November 10). APA Secures Bipartisan Introduction of Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act. http://www.apaservices.org/advocacy/news/expand-crisis-counseling

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On October 28, 2021, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01), along with Representatives David McKinley (WV-01) and Peter Meijer (MI-03) introduced the Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act (H.R. 5703). This legislation would expand eligibility for FEMA’s Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP), which provides short-term mental health resources for survivors. Currently, support through this program is only available following “major disaster declarations,” but not smaller “emergency declarations.”

“Decades of psychological research demonstrate the long-term negative impact disasters can have on the mental health of individuals and communities," said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, in a press release on the introduction of the legislation. "From natural events such as hurricanes or earthquakes, to human-caused incidents such as mass shootings or terrorist attacks - disasters can take an emotional toll. APA strongly supports the introduction of the bipartisan Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act, which would give states and localities more tools to coordinate mental health care after an emergency declaration through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program.”

In the last decade alone, there have been more than 4,000 Emergency Declarations in 37 states and 72% of all congressional districts. From hurricanes and earthquakes to terrorist attacks and other mass violence, these emergencies have led to lasting trauma for individuals, families, and communities who must cope with the loss of life, loss of property, economic stressors, and many other factors that can negatively affect mental wellbeing.

APA Services will continue to work with the bill’s sponsors to get increased support for the legislation, which is slated for markup by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in December.

For more information, contact Alix Ginsberg, MPH.