Sens. Gardner, Manchin introduce crisis care during pandemic bill

Sens. Gardner, Manchin introduce crisis care during pandemic bill

U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced a bill Wednesday that they hope will improve mental health crisis care and reduce suicide.

The Crisis Care Improvement and Suicide Prevention Act would direct states to use five percent of their Mental Health Block Grant to upgrade crisis care programs and strategies. The bill would also increase funding for the program by five percent annually.

Similar legislation was introduced last month in the House by U. S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL).

“I’ve held countless meetings and roundtables with families, students, mental health care professionals, law enforcement officials, and others to address our state’s mental health needs. Colorado had tragically high suicide and drug overdose death rates prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result of the ongoing Public Health Emergency, our state’s behavioral health needs have only increased,” Gardner said. “Crisis care services and strategies help ensure that individuals get effective care in a timely manner and play a critical role in preventing these devastating outcomes. I am proud to join Senator Manchin to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will support crisis care services and save lives.”

A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 45 percent of American adults say their mental health has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus due to worry and stress. The report also found that 28 percent of people experiencing significant disruption to their lives due to the virus said they had major negative mental health impacts.

“We are experiencing an epidemic in the middle of a pandemic, and our fellow Americans need help. In 2019 alone, 70,980 Americans died from drug overdoses which is heartbreaking and unacceptable, and the COVID-19 pandemic is only making this crisis worse,” Manchin said. “A recent report projects that 75,000 Americans are at risk of overdose death or suicide due to COVID-19 pressures, with West Virginia at the top for potential per capita rates of deaths. As we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must remember the other health crisis affecting our nation.”

The bill is supported by the American Psychiatric Association.