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4/26/2017 Media Advisory: As Mental Health Month kicks off, Senate to vote on mental health bills
STATE HOUSE – On the same day the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island kicks off its “May is Mental Health Month” campaign at the State House, the Senate is poised tomorrow to pass several bills aimed at improving mental health care in Rhode Island.

The speaking program for the annual event is scheduled tomorrow, Thursday, April 27, at noon in the State Room on the second floor of the State House. (Resource tables and music will start at 11:30 a.m.) The program will be emceed by Barbara Morse Silva of Channel 10 News, and scheduled speakers include Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee, Executive Office of Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Anya Rader Wallack, Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals Acting Director Rebecca Boss, and Department of Children, Youth and Families Director Trista Piccola. The program will also include testimony for individuals with personal experience with mental health care.

At the event, the association will present its annual Bell of Hope awards to former Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) and Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).

The Mental Health Association of Rhode Island coordinates a month of events in May to promote good mental health and to provide education and information to reduce the stigma of mental illness. A full calendar with over 50 activities will be distributed throughout the state and will be available at the kick-off event tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon, the Senate is scheduled to vote on a substantial portion of bills from a package of mental health legislation its leadership has developed this year. On the calendar for the Senate session, which is scheduled at 4 p.m. in the Senate chamber on the second floor of the State House, are:
  • 2017-S 0324A — Sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), this bill requests that the Department of Health develop a plan to expand the reach of the existing evidence-based family home visiting programs in Rhode Island.
  • 2017-S 0328 —  Sponsored by Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett), this resolution requests that the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) submit a report to address identified mental health service needs, including plans to address several specified areas.
  • 2017-S 0329A — Also sponsored by Chairman Miller, this legislation seeks to ensure equal access to treatment for mental and behavioral health inpatient and residential treatment as exists for persons with physical illness.
  • 2017-S 0330A — Sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), this legislation requires the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner to submit recommendations to ensure insurance providers are complying with mental health parity provisions.
  • 2017-S 0331 — This bill sponsored by Sen. Jeanine Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick) would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to apply for waivers to assure overall access to mental and behavioral health care services and improved supportive services and mobile healthcare for the homeless.
  • 2017-S 0332A — Sponsored by Chairman Miller, this bill would require the EOHHS to prepare standards for emergency room discharge planning to ensure that persons with a primary mental health diagnosis are referred to appropriate inpatient and outpatient services. 

For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 276-5558