Congressional members urge emergency funding for mental health

Congressional members urge emergency funding for mental health

A bipartisan, bicameral group of Congressional members recently sent a letter to House and Senate leaders, urging them to provide emergency funding to behavioral health organizations (BHOs).

BHOs are organizations that primarily treat individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders. Funding would help these organizations remain in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawmakers asked for at least $38.5 billion in emergency aid for BHOs that utilize evidence-based practices. The BHOs would need to meet at least one of three criteria: be accredited by an independent, national accrediting organization; receive state or tribal funding; or qualify as community mental health centers as defined by the Public Health Service Act.

“Congress has passed four stimulus packages to bolster the nation’s response to COVID-19,” the letter said. “However, none have addressed the growing challenge to and need for BHOs. With a growing number of Americans in need of behavioral health services and many BHOs at risk of closing, the nation is headed towards another public health crisis…[W]e must pass a stimulus package that prioritizes the financial security of these vital health care providers and the health of millions of Americans.”

Drug and alcohol abuse has increased during the pandemic, according to anecdotal reports.