CTIPP Applauds Unanimous U.S. House Committee Passage of Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act

Important federal legislation that would increase mental health and trauma support resources has just crossed another critical milestone towards becoming law.

Today, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously passed H.R. 5703, the bipartisan Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act, to expand eligibility for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP). CTIPP was an early endorser of this legislation.

The legislation would expand short-term mental health and trauma support resources to survivors and first responders of “Emergency Declarations,” in addition to the current support for “Major Disaster Declarations.” 

According to FEMA’s database, there have been over 4,000 Emergency Declarations in 37 states (72 percent of Congressional districts) over the last decade, which have included winter storms, hurricanes, terrorism (E.G., the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013), and other disasters (E.G., the Surfside building collapse in Florida). 

Experiencing a natural disaster by 5 years old is associated with a 16 percent increase in substance use disorder by adulthood. A large-scale study of earthquake survivors found that 24 percent had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Of the children who attended the Boston Marathon bombing, 11 percent exhibited PTSD symptoms, and up to 20 percent of firefighters who have responded to major wildfires experience PTSD. 

“We applaud Chairman DeFazio, Members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Congressmembers Pressley, Titus, McKinley, and Meijer for their continued leadership towards ensuring survivors of traumatic community-level events can build healing and resilience,” said Jesse Kohler, Executive Director of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP).

“Too many survivors of traumatic events are left without support or acknowledgment of the emotional wreckage of a disaster,” continued Kohler. “A lack of trauma-informed resources leads to higher rates of PTSD, substance use disorder, depression, and other health challenges. The Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act is a pragmatic solution that will help mitigate suffering and have a lasting impact on the health of our communities. CTIPP is proud to have been an early endorser of this legislation and will continue to fight for its swift passage in the U.S. House and Senate.”

The legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2021 by Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Dina Titus (D-NV-01), David McKinley (R-WV-01), and Peter Meijer (R-MI-03). 

The U.S. Senate version of the bill (S. 3677) also recently received unanimous approval by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. 

This legislation enjoys broad support from survivors, advocates, experts, and lawmakers who will continue working to ensure the legislation is brought before the House and Senate for a floor vote before being signed into law by President Joe Biden.

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