U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announced Thursday they have introduced an amendment to the COVID-19 relief package that would give an additional $4.5 billion in funding to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Citing increasing drug overdose deaths, and mounting mental health issues in Americans caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the senators said the additional funds were needed to help Americans continue to cope during the national health crisis.
“The pandemic has taken a severe toll on our public health infrastructure and has strained services related to substance abuse, mental health, and suicide prevention,” Collins said. “In Maine, drug overdose deaths increased by more than 20 percent in the first four months of 2020, and calls to suicide prevention hotlines have soared. Our amendment would significantly boost funding to help combat the opioid crisis and promote mental health services in order to support the growing number of Americans who are relying on these programs during this difficult time.”
The additional funding would provide $2 billion in Mental Health Services Block Grants, $1.5 billion in Substance Abuse and Prevention Treatment Block Grants, $600 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, $50 million for Suicide Prevention Programs, $100 million for Project AWARE to support the mental health of children once they return to school, and $250 million for emergency grants to states.
“Our nation is facing unprecedented challenges right now,” Capito said. “It’s important to remember that while we are dealing with coronavirus, this is not the only health crisis we are battling. West Virginia has seen more than any state should have to endure when it comes to the devastating consequences of a crisis that is affecting families and communities across our state. That’s why I have continued working hard to make sure that we receive the resources we need to fight it. Programs like SAMHSA are essential in this fight, and the measure Senator Collins and I introduced today will provide the support needed to continue these essential services as we continue to fight the drug epidemic in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”