PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The killing of a TV news crew in Roanoke on Wednesday, by what appears to have been a man with mental illness, is the latest example for Pa. Congressman Tim Murphy of a mental health system that needs to be fixed.

Murphy joined “The KDKA Morning News” to talk about his frustration over the lack of action by Congress and that his mental health bill (H.R. 2646) needs to become law before another tragedy.

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“I try not to be bitter about it, but I can’t help but be very frustrated with Congress’ lack of action on this [mental health bill],” says Murphy.

Murphy says the number of deaths related to mental illness is staggering.

“We have had more deaths by suicide, by drug overdoses, by homeless deaths, by people who are victims of crimes by the mentally ill and the mental ill themselves. We have had had more death from those than the combined combat deaths of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and it is disgusting,” he says.

One of the problems with the current laws for mental health, according to Murphy, is confidentiality laws – when a family member of someone who is mentally ill is not told of a potential serious problem. Murphy says his bill would change that.

Murphy says there is a stigma with severe mental illness.

“When you can’t get treatment and you wait until someone deteriorates so the police are involved, no wonder there is a stigma because people associate mental illness with police and jails and sadly, that’s where so many people get their first treatment is from police,” says Murphy.

Why hasn’t Murphy’s bill been passed yet? He says it’s because of a “couple of small groups,” and families of those affected are only now becoming vocal.

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“There are some who are caught up in the 1950’s and 1960’s thinking we want to bring back asylums,” Murphy says.

Murphy says that isn’t true.

Murphy also says that some are concerned about confidentiality for patients. He says in his bill it is “very carefully defined,” to when family would be notified.

Murphy is also calling for a reorganization of government agencies that deal with mental illness.

“I want to eliminate the programs that are doing a bad job. I want to elevate the programs that are doing a good job. I want to merge things together so more money is used more efficiently and drive more funds out to the states,” he says.

The congressman says he is not going to quit until the bill passes.

“We need to be treating people with mental illness, not just be job enablers in Washington D.C.”

Listen to “The KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

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