June 22, 2022

Watson Coleman Votes to Pass the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act

Congresswoman Watson Coleman worked with Committee to include several priorities including Minority Fellowship Programs and a study of the impact of social media usage by adolescents

Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) voted for passage of the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well Being Act, H.R.7666, a comprehensive bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6). 

The bill strengthens and expands more than 30 programs that support mental health care and substance abuse disorder prevention, care, treatment, and recovery.

Congresswoman Watson Coleman worked with the Energy and Commerce Committee and her colleagues to include legislation requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to study and report on the impact of smartphone and social media usage by adolescents and the effects on their health and development as well as disparities in mental health outcomes on rural, minority, or other underserved populations. H.R.7666 also reauthorizes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Minority Fellowship Program which supports individuals pursuing master's or doctoral degrees in various fields of mental health and substance use disorder counseling.

These two programs were included in the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act which passed the House in May 2021 but has been held up in the Senate. 

“I’m grateful to my colleagues for their continued work on mental health and substance abuse, crises that have touched so many Americans,” said Watson Coleman. “These crises are the result of countless factors and lacking resources over several years. It will take us time to climb back and conquer them but this is an important step in that process.”

More than 2 million people in the United States have an opioid use disorder and nearly 108,000 people died due to drug overdose in 2021, a record-breaking number that followed a 30 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020. 

One in five children has or will have a seriously debilitating mental illness and suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and young people between the ages of 10 and 14. About 122 million Americans live in areas experiencing mental health professional shortages. In 2020, 46 percent of adults with a mental illness received treatment and less than 2 percent in need of substance use treatment received it.