Mental Health Bill: Rick Warren and Wife Kay ‘Grateful’ to Congress for Passing 21st Century Cures Act

Dec 12, 2016 09:56 AM EST

Many rejoiced when the Senate recently passed the controversial 21st Century Cures Act, and pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay were among them.

Rick and Kay, co-founders of California-based Saddleback Church, said they are thankful that the Cures Act was passed because they believe it will help save lives.

“We are so grateful that Congress passed the Cures Act, which invests in saving lives by addressing the opioid epidemic, cancer research, biomedical research, mental health reform, and the drug developmental process,” Rick and Kay said in a statement.

Having had a son who suffered from mental illness, the Warrens were especially grateful that the legislation will provide funding for mental health treatment.

“Mental health is a deeply personal issue for us because our son, Matthew, lived with mental illness for most of his life,” they said.

Matthew had borderline personality disorder. In 2013, he shot himself to death using an unregistered gun he bought online. It was a devastating time for the Warrens, during which they turned to the only comfort they knew: the Bible.

Since their son’s death, they became involved in raising awareness about mental illness. They also encourage communities to be more accepting of people suffering from mental illness.

"Statistics show us that there are 60 million Americans living with mental illness,” the Warrens said. “The Cures Act takes important steps for much-needed mental health reform and will ensure mental health programs are effectively serving people with mental illness.”

They also said the Cures Act will help veterans, the homeless, women and children have more access to care. The legislation, they said, will “promote evidence-based approaches to provide the best care to people in need.”

“In hope of a brighter future for people living with mental illness, we are grateful," the Warrens said.

Aside from funding mental health treatment, the legislation, to receive $6.3 billion, will pay for cancer research and measures to fight the opioid epidemic. It will help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have faster approval of new drugs, and it will promote better technology in medicine.

The legislation waits for the signature of Pres. Barack Obama, who already said he would approve it.

"This bill will make a big difference, and I look forward to signing it as soon as it reaches my desk," Obama said in a statement. "We are now one step closer to ending cancer as we know it, unlocking cures for diseases like Alzheimer's, and helping people seeking treatment for opioid addiction finally get the help they need.”