Sen. Bill Cassidy Breaks Down As He Discusses The Impact Mental Illness Has

Bill Cassidy
Bill Cassidy

During his passionate speech about the value of mental health treatment in America, a Republican senator used highly personal language. Every single one of us has a family history, said Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy, who will take over as a ranking member of the crucial Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) Committee in January. For Cassidy, the issue is personal. His nephew died by suicide decades ago, and the Louisiana senator is “still emotional after all these years. But everybody has such an emotional story.”

A licensed physician, Cassidy previously worked in hospitals for the uninsured. He stressed the importance of treating mental and physical health in tandem, noting that “having serious mental illness often leads to serious physical illness.” Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there were 14 suicide fatalities in the US last year for every 100,000 persons. Every year, up to 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide, and in 2020, there were 1.2 million suicide attempts.

Growing Support for Bill Cassidy and Murphy’s Bill to Reauthorize and Enhance the Mental Health Reform Act.

As a doctor who treats vulnerable populations and in light of Cassidy’s nephew’s passing, he has made mental health legislation one of his top legislative goals. Democrat Senator Chris Murphy and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy introduced legislation in May to extend and strengthen a bipartisan mental health policy that ended in September.

Cassidy will collaborate with the committee’s progressive chairman, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in his capacity as ranking member. When asked how the two will come to an understanding, Cassidy said that while he and Sanders might disagree on the “treatment” for different medical problems, they are likely to agree on the “diagnosis.”