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CTIPP Leads National Advocacy Groups Urging Congress to Call a Vote on Disaster Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) released today a coalition letter urging Congressional leaders to bring the bipartisan Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act up for a vote as soon as possible.

Groups that signed onto the letter include CTIPP, National Association of Counties, American Psychological Association, Association for Behavioral Healthcare, American College of Emergency Physicians, National Association of EMTs, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action, Residential Eating Disorders Consortium (REDC), Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of Elders (CARIE), American Mental Wellness Association, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), and International Association of Fire Fighters.

The legislation would extend the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) to be available following Emergency Declarations, in addition to Major Disaster Declarations. CCP helps communities heal from trauma by implementing a mental health response, including facilitating peer support groups, disseminating educational material on coping with trauma, establishing mental health hotlines, and connecting survivors with longer-term care.

“Disasters are unpredictable and destabilizing life events that can hurt the mental health of individuals and communities over a lifespan,” said Jesse Kohler, Executive Director of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP). “We are proud to stand with our coalition partners in advocating for its swift passage. By making supportive resources available immediately following a disaster, this pragmatic legislation would help mitigate long-term health challenges and suffering, as well as the costs they impose at all levels of government. We urge Congressional leadership in the House and Senate to bring this legislation up for a vote and look forward to its swift passage to help build resilience and healing nationwide.”

In the last decade alone, there have been more than 4,000 Emergency Declarations in 37 states across 72 percent of all Congressional districts. From hurricanes, wildfires, and floods to terrorist attacks and building collapses, these emergencies can take a physical and emotion toll, increasing substance use disorder, suicide, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

After the Boston Marathon bombing, 11 percent of children in attendance exhibited PTSD symptoms, and 38 percent of Boston-area military veterans with PTSD were emotionally distressed. Additionally, experiencing a natural disaster by age five is associated with a 16 percent increase in mental health or substance use disorder by adulthood. A large-scale study of earthquake survivors found that 24 percent had PTSD. Emergency Medical Response workers are nearly 40 percent more likely to die by suicide, and 10 to 20 percent of firefighters who have responded to major wildfires experience PTSD. (Source)

“Mental health is physical health. Just like other physical maladies that occur from all types of disasters, prompt appropriate medical care for mental health conditions is critical,” says Sharon Engdahl, Executive Director of the American Mental Wellness Association.

The legislation was introduced in the U.S. House (H.R. 5703) 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), and the U.S. Senate version (S. 3677) was introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rob Portman (R-OH). It recently passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

View and download the coalition letter here.

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The Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) is a national nonprofit committed to creating a trauma-informed society where individuals, families, and communities have the support and resources necessary to thrive. Through advocacy, policy, and education, CTIPP is building a movement that integrates community-led, trauma-informed, resilience-focused, and healing-centered prevention, intervention, and treatment approaches across all sectors and generations.

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