Rep. Cori Bush Revives Bill To Provide Mental Health Services For Families Affected By Police Violence

by Gee NY
Credit: Greg Nash

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) has reintroduced the Helping Families Heal Act, a bill aimed at providing mental health resources to families impacted by police violence.

The legislation seeks to establish grant programs within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund a variety of mental health services for victims, families, and students affected by police brutality.

Originally proposed in September 2022, the bill was reintroduced on what would have been the 28th birthday of Michael Brown, a Black teenager killed by St. Louis police at age 18.

His death was a significant catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite the resignation of the officer involved, a grand jury declined to indict him.

“Police violence steals precious lives like Mike Brown and so many others,” Bush stated. “The trauma and grief it leaves behind contribute to mental health crises, disproportionately affecting surviving family members, Black and brown communities, and young people.”

Bush noted that the legislation was developed with input from Michael Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden.

“Mike Brown should still be alive, and today, on his 28th birthday, we are honoring him by reintroducing this vitally needed legislation,” said Bush, who has a background in nursing and clergy work, and spent over 400 days protesting on the Ferguson frontlines before her congressional career.

The Helping Families Heal Act proposes to hire, train, and deploy mental health professionals and community health workers to support those who have experienced or witnessed police violence, including those who have lost friends, colleagues, or neighbors to such violence.

The bill also aims to invest in programs to identify and treat intergenerational trauma stemming from police violence.

Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (Ill.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) are co-sponsoring the legislation.

“The Helping Families Heal Act will provide more resources to address the devastating mental health consequences of police violence in our communities,” Bush said. “As we continue to work to end police brutality, mass incarceration, and cycles of trauma, we must also invest in the health, safety, and well-being of our communities. Together, we can help our families heal.”

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