U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) have reintroduced legislation that would expand mental health and substance use disorder services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposed legislation, the Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act, would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award $100 million in grants to establish a Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Network. The grants would be available to eligible non-profit organizations, health care providers, and Indian tribes that provide mental health and addiction services.
The funding would be used to initiate or expand mental health and substance use disorder services in response to the pandemic, including support groups, telephone helplines and websites, training programs, telehealth services, and outreach services.
“This pandemic has been hard on Americans. Now more than ever, we must prioritize mental health by dedicating resources like telehealth, support groups, and outreach services so people can get the help that they need,” Young said. “I introduced the Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act to provide mental health and addiction services and treatment to Hoosiers struggling at home.”
According to a report in June from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of American adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use. And according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 53 percent of adults in America reported the pandemic had negatively impacted their mental health due to worry and stress.
Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and John Katko (R-NY). The legislation has been endorsed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Counseling Association, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.