Staff briefing on mental health scheduled in wake of Giffords shooting

The co-chairs of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus will host a briefing Wednesday for staffers who have questions about mental illness in the wake of the Jan. 8 shooting of Rep. Gabrille Giffords (D-Ariz.).

The prime suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, is widely believed to suffer from a mental illness.

The briefing is hosted by Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who co-founded the caucus in 2003. The week after the shooting, Napolitano told The Hill that she wanted to host a briefing on mental-health danger signs because staffers are often on the receiving end of threats or disturbing remarks but don't always know which to take seriously.

"In the wake of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, many congressional staff are concerned about mental health and mental illness and their work as staff," reads a memo from Napolitano's office to congressional staffers  "While stressing the importance of not increasing stigma against the mentally ill, who are not more likely to be violent than the general population, the Congressional Mental Health Caucus will provide a panel of experts to take questions and discuss what resources are available to staff members if they do feel threatened."

Invited panelists include Daniel Dodgen, the director of the Office for At Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, and Human Services Coordination at HHS; William Hudock of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and Pete Earley, a representative from the Capitol Police.

The hour-long briefing has been scheduled for 2 p.m. in 2103 Rayburn House Office Building.