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Begich Receives Award for Senate Work on Mental Health Issues

Named this Year’s “Behavioral Health Champion” by National Council for Behavioral Health

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich was named this year’s “Behavioral Health Champion” by the National Council for Behavioral Health.

“I’m honored to receive this distinguished award from the National Council for Behavioral Health and thank them for their advocacy in strengthening mental health services in this country,” said Begich. “In light of recent events, it is time that Congress addresses these gaps in our mental health system to expand services, improve training for providers, and help individuals, families, and veterans alike get the treatment they need across the country.”

Sen. Begich has been an outspoken advocate of expanding mental health services for Americans and has advocated for a stronger mental health system through his seats on both the Veterans Affairs Committee and the powerful Appropriations Committee.  Sen. Begich gained critical support for a program mirroring his Mental Health First Aid bill in a recent Appropriations bill this past spring.

“The council thanks Sen. Begich for his persistent, passionate, and powerful leadership on behalf of individuals with mental illnesses and addictions, as well as the organizations that care for them. The National Council is pleased to honor Senator Begich as the 2013 Behavioral Health Champion,” said Charles Ingoglia, Senior Vice President for public policy and practice improvement at the National Council for Behavior Health.

Sen. Begich’s Mental Health First Aid bill establishes training programs to help community members recognize the signs of mental illness and safely address crisis situations as well as implementing protocols for initiating timely referrals to community mental health services.  Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte (NH) is the other lead co-sponsor of the bill. Sen. Begich has also successfully inserted a provision into a veteran’s mental health care bill allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide telehealth without cost for veterans. He has been a tireless advocate for stronger services to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) within the military and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

In light of recent mass shootings, Sen. Begich has called on Senate leaders to immediately bring to the floor bipartisan legislation to help strengthen the nation’s mental health services. 

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