U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) announced Wednesday Wayne County would receive $4 million in federal funds to expand mental health and substance use disorder treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds, made available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), would allow the county to expand mental health, suicide prevention, and substance use treatment services, including their telehealth offerings.
Katko is the co-chair of the Mental Health Caucus and recently reintroduced three bills – The Mental Health Services for Students Act, the Emergency Support for Substance Use Disorders Act, and The Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act – to support mental health and substance use disorders during the pandemic.
“Throughout our region, we continue to see troubling increases in the rate of mental illness, as well as the sustained and devastating impact of the opioid epidemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these conditions, increasing the demand for care while simultaneously creating new constraints for service providers,” Katko said. “To address these challenges, I’m pleased to announce Wayne County will receive $4 million in funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). With these funds, Wayne County will expand their mental health and substance use treatment services, including telehealth services, to ensure residents in Wayne County can safely access treatment during the pandemic.”
James Haitz, Wayne County Director of Community Mental Health Services, said the award couldn’t come at a better time.
“This award will provide the necessary funding to allow us to make a significant impact and help the people in our community who are struggling with addiction and mental health problems, including those who are suffering from an opioid addiction, and to also help those family members and close friends who are suffering right along with their loved ones as they try to cope with the impacts of these problems on their families,” he said.
In Katko’s central New York district, Onondaga County Health Department recently found that overdose deaths increased by 40 percent in the Syracuse area during the first nine months of 2020. Additionally, the CDC announced last year that nearly half of all Americans reported struggling with mental health or substance use disorders in the last year.