Press Release

CAMFT Leadership Visits Capitol Hill to Lobby for Mental Health Legislation as Shots Fired on the Grounds

~ Event Underscores Need to Pass Expanded Mental Health Services Legislation ~

SAN DIEGO, CA. (March 30, 2016)–In a frightening sequence of events on Monday, leaders of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT), a 32,000 member professional organization, found themselves and congressional staffers ordered by Capitol Police to “shelter in place” after shots were fired at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. The traumatic experience left the delegation of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) with sober insight of a patient’s emotional distress from such an event. CAMFT members are in the nation’s capital this week to lobby for legislation, including provisions for increased mental health coverage under Medicare and for veterans.

“CAMFT’s delegation of 14 Licensed and Marriage and Family Therapists from California lobbied representatives to co-sponsor and support the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2015 (HR 2759/S. 1830) and Marriage and Family Therapists for Veterans Act (HR 2639) bills,” said Laura C. Strom, LMFT and CAMFT President.

“ The need for expanded mental health coverage is imperative, especially amongst the Medicare population. HR 2759/S. 1830 allows LMFTs to serve as Medicare providers for this population. This would not only increase access to mental health care, but would also result in savings to the Medicare program by providing Medicare beneficiaries with a lower-cost mental health care option and beneficial alternative to costly in-patient services,” said Strom.

Regarding HR 2639, Strom noted, “There is a barrier keeping 95% of LMFTs in California from working at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This bill would remove the barrier and help ease the shortage of mental health providers in the VA. Our veterans deserve greater access to mental health care.”

Monday’s shooting underscores the importance of President Obama’s recent proposal to appropriate $500 million to expand mental health services. The appropriation, if funded by Congress, would be part of the Administration’s 2017 budget.

“The President’s executive action addresses the critical gap between the millions of Americans who have mental health problems and our ability as a nation to help these individuals,” said Strom. “As an organization dedicated to providing mental health services, CAMFT recognizes thousands of local residents need this specialized care. We understand the effects of mental illness on families and neighborhoods, and are experts in treating and managing conditions ranging from addiction to depression to problems related to trauma and many others.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that 43.8 million adults have some type of mental or behavioral health issue, yet only 41 percent of these adults are receiving treatment; one in five have a mental health condition.

CAMFT encourages Californians to utilize the Association’s vast network of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. “We are committed to raising awareness of the prevalence of mental health conditions in our communities, including erasing stigma, and are uniquely positioned to help address these critical needs,” Strom said.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists are mental health professionals who work with individuals including children, teens, and adults, couples, families, and groups to treat mental, emotional, traumatic, and relational distress of all kinds. LMFTs work in a variety of settings throughout California. LMFTs have acquired two-year master’s degrees, 3,000 hours of supervised experience, and have passed two rigorous exams. Their extensive training includes treatment of trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, grief, and much more.

For more information on mental health and access to therapists who can help manage life’s challenges, visit