On Friday, December 18, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act by voice vote. As the legislation heads to the House, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate health committee urged House passage of their legislation to help state and local communities prevent suicide, help children recover from traumatic events, and help improve mental health awareness for teachers and others.

Details on what the bill does:

• Supports suicide prevention and intervention programs.

• Helps train teachers and school personnel to recognize and understand mental illness.

• Helps children recover from traumatic events, including support for national network of child trauma centers.

• Requires a study of federal requirements that may get in the way of integrating mental health and substance use disorder treatment with primary care, as well as other barriers to care.

• Directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to improve education and awareness among providers and patients of treatments for addiction to opioid painkillers.

• Requires a Government Accountability Office study on mental health services for children, looking at both access and availability.

• Encourages sharing of information on best practices for mental health and substance use disorders in older adults.

• Encourages the improvement of the National Violent Death Reporting System, which currently collects data from 32 states.

• Requires a government study on the status of recommendations to Department of Health and Human Services in 2007 report following Virginia Tech tragedy.

Cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Click the link to follow the progress of the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act.