Coalition looks for increase in mental health, substance use disorder funding in COVID relief bill

Coalition looks for increase in mental health, substance use disorder funding in COVID relief bill

A coalition led by U.S. Reps. David Trone (D-MD), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Annie Kuster (D-NH), and Donald Norcross (D-NJ) is urging Congressional leadership to increase funding for mental health and substance use disorder prevention and treatment in the next COVID relief bill.

The group of 80 Congress members is asking that an additional $10 billion, including $5 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant and $5 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant programs, be added to any upcoming COVID relief bill.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the growing number of Americans dealing with mental health and substance use disorders, and it’s time we address these crises head-on,” Trone said. “We will never have a vaccine to address mental health or addiction, which is why we need consistent, long-term funding to support those across our country that are impacted by these diseases. I want to thank my colleagues for recognizing the importance of coming together to request this additional funding in the COVID relief package as the next step towards addressing these growing epidemics.”

This requested funding would be in addition to the previous funding approved by Congress in COVID stimulus packages, including the $4.25 billion approved and added into the December 2020 omnibus package.

“At the onset of 2021 and a new presidential administration, we still find our country battling dual pandemics – COVID-19 and untreated mental and behavioral health disorders. While the pandemic has resulted in expanded access to telehealth, it has also spurred increases in substance use, overdoses, depression, and anxiety,” the coalition wrote to Congressional leadership in a letter. “Studies have found that worry and stress related to COVID have had a major negative impact on many Americans’ mental health, particularly for those who have lost income or a job. In June, over 40 percent of surveyed adults reported a negative mental or behavioral health condition related to COVID, including 31 percent who reported anxiety or depression symptoms, 13 percent who started or increased their substance use, and 11 percent who seriously considered suicide over the past month. It is critical that we address this troubling trend.”

The additional funding would be given to states and territories to prevent and treat substance use disorders, as well as to expand access to mental health treatment.