House passes provision to address mental health during pandemic

As part of a larger federal appropriations bill, the House passed a measure Friday that would address mental health in American families suffering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Authored by Rep. David Trone (D-MD), the provision would create an Interagency Task Force to address the effects of trauma on children and families as a result of the pandemic.

“We cannot ignore the mental health impacts of this pandemic on our children and their families, and my bipartisan bill ensures we are not leaving mental health care and our children behind,” Trone said. “We also need to do everything we can to support our communities with increased access to broadband, investment in medical research, and funding to address the opioid epidemic, which is getting worse every day. These funding bills reflect the priorities I heard from our constituents. I will not stop fighting until this bill reaches the President’s desk.”

The $1.3 trillion bill, HR 7617, allocates discretionary funding for the Departments of Defense; Commerce, Justice and Science; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Trone’s bill, a bipartisan effort along with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), would provide $1 million to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration to create the task force, which would “identify, prevent and mitigate the effects of trauma on children and their families.”

According to the National Institute of mental Health, about 10-15 percent of people exposed to trauma like a pandemic, will experience long-term mental health issues.

HR 7617 also includes a $3 million increase in funding for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network program, which provides increased access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events.