H.R. 1877, Mental Health First Aid Act of 2015

H.R. 1877

Mental Health First Aid Act of 2015

September 26, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
John Huston

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Monday, September 26, 2016, the House will likely consider H.R. 1877, Mental Health First Aid Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 1877 was introduced on April 16, 2015, by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which ordered the bill reported by voice vote on September 21, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 1877 requires the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to award grants to initiate and sustain mental health awareness training grants. The grants would be open to individuals throughout a community, including first responders, law enforcement, teachers, faith leaders, nurses, and other relevant personnel. The goal of these programs is to train individuals to de-escalate crisis situations, recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and encourage timely referral to mental health services.


The federal government is involved in mental health care in various ways, including direct provision of services, payment for services, and indirect support for services (e.g., grant funding, dissemination of best practices, and technical assistance). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides federal funding to support community-based mental health services. [1]

SAMHSA awards formula and competitive grants under its authorities in Title V of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). The agency also administers the the Community Mental Health Services (CMHS) block grant. SAMHS’s budget for mental health services and grants in FY 2016 was $1.08 billion.[2]

According to the bill sponsor, “This legislation would authorize funding for mental health first aid training, meaning that local emergency services and community leaders could receive the specialized teaching they need to help people trying to cope with mental illness. In particular, this training includes de-escalating crisis situations, recognizing symptoms of common mental illnesses and referring individuals showing early stages of mental disorders to the appropriate services.”[3]

[1] See CRS Report, “Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Agency Overview and Reauthorization Issues,” November 4, 2010.
[2] See Department of Health and Human Services website, HHS FY2016 Budget in Brief
[3] See Rep. Lynn Jenkins website, “Lynn Jenkins: Mental health awareness must be more than one-month-a-year issue,” May 8, 2016.


A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently not available.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.