Support the Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Repayment Act

Please take a quick moment to ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor The Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Repayment Act (S.1578/H.R.3150) which will Expand Access to Mental Health Services and Increase Opportunities for Occupational Therapy in Mental Health.

In the 117th Congress, Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY) re-introduced the Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Repayment Act (S.1578/H.R.3150). This piece of legislation aims to increase the number of mental health professionals working in underserved areas by providing loan forgiveness to mental health professionals who practice in areas designated as having a shortage of mental health professionals. 

This legislation was introduced in 115th Congress and originally it did not include occupational therapy as an explicitly listed Mental Health Profession. In a win for occupational therapy advocates, when the legislation was reintroduced in 116th Congress, language had been added to include occupational therapy in the list of mental health practitioners who would be eligible for the loan forgiveness proposed in this bill.

Passage of this legislation would be a dual win for occupational therapy. This legislation would increase access to mental health care in shortage areas and for the first time, would include occupational therapy within a statutory definition of mental health provider, which will help with current state and local efforts to expand OT’s role in mental health.

In order to show support for this piece of legislation, we are asking advocates to ask their members of Congress to co-sponsor this legislation. Co-Sponsorship is a way for members of Congress to signal publicly that this issue is important to them. It is also a good indication on whether a bill will be brought to the floor of the House or the Senate. For example, if a House Resolution (H.R.) has 218 co-sponsors (“Half plus 1” of the 435 members of the chamber) it is a good indication that the bill will pass or be approved by the chamber. Remember, legislation must be passed by the House and the Senate and finally signed by the President in order to become law.