Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee to Host Bipartisan Forum on March 5th: “After Newtown: A National Conversation on Violence and Severe Mental Illness”

February 21, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – As part of the ongoing review by the House Energy and Commerce Committee into mental health issues raised by the Newtown tragedy, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO) today announced that the subcommittee has scheduled a forum with leading national experts on March 5, 2013, to explore issues related to severe mental illness and violence.  

“The underlying cause in mass tragedies like Newtown is that the perpetrator had an untreated or undertreated mental illness,” said Murphy. "Our forum will examine the challenges and barriers facing families and whether the current system is delivering the programs needed. We’ll also explore the science behind identifying individuals with mental illness and those at-risk of violent behavior.”

“In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, our nation has finally begun to work together to prevent gun violence," said DeGette. "As we look for solutions, addressing deficiencies in the mental health system is critical to saving lives. This forum is an important first step in that process, and I look forward to hearings in our committee to explore these issues in even greater depth.” 

Shortly after the 113th Congress convened in early January, the subcommittee launched an examination of mental health treatment, federal grant programs, and research into mental illness and violence. At the March 5 forum, the subcommittee will bring together the nation’s top mental health experts, including leading researchers and providers both in the federal government and in private practice to engage in a dialogue on severe mental illness and how we can identify and treat those at risk of violent behavior. The panelists will also explore issues related to early detection of mental illness; how the treatment for the severely mentally ill has changed over time; the programs and treatments currently being offered, including involuntary treatment, and where these services are provided, including inpatient settings, health centers, schools, and by the criminal justice system; what treatments are successful; and barriers individuals and families face when seeking treatment for the severely mentally ill.

Further details on the March 5 forum, including logistics and participants, will be posted when available HERE.

Chairman Murphy brings a unique perspective to the mental health discussion – prior to serving in Congress, he was a practicing psychologist specializing in treating at-risk families and children exhibiting violent behavior.

Read the committee’s February 7, 2013, letter to HHS on steps taken to assess and improve the nation’s mental health system following previous incidences of mass violence HERE.

Read the committee’s February 14, 2013, letter to HHS on how HIPAA and the HIPAA Privacy Rule impact the ability of state and local governments to share mental health records with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) HERE.