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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Susan Wild (PA-07)

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) announced House passage of a $35 million increase in Mental Health Block Grants she requested. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for comprehensive mental health services has been heightened. Beginning in April, the Crisis Text Line, a national crisis counseling service, experienced 47 to 116 percent more texts per day than it received on an average day before the COVID-19 crisis A key component of the Labor – Health and Human Services funding bill, Wild’s critical increase will also set aside funds to help create 24/7 mobile crisis units.

“More than ever before, mental health deserves the same care and attention as physical health,” Wild said. “In this time of prolonged stress, the demand for comprehensive mental health services continue to rise, and ensuring our states have the resources available to meet this demand, especially for individuals who need immediate care, is critical. When someone is in crisis, they need the help of an expert – and they need it right away. This funding helps make that possible and expands comprehensive mental health care services that will save lives.”

In March, Wild led an appropriations letter asking for Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations funding, which extends from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021 to properly prioritize county crisis funding and include a five percent set-aside in Mental Health Block Grants for crisis services. Outlined in the Crisis Care Improvement and Suicide Prevention Act introduced by Wild in June, these funds are intended upgrade state and local crisis care programs and strategies to better connect patients and families to the appropriate services in real time.

“We celebrate the effort of Congresswoman Wild and others who are truly committed to improving the wellbeing of our country,” said David Covington, LPC, MBA, CEO & President of RI International. “The proposed SAMHSA Mental Health Block Grant set-aside is the perfect vehicle to advance sustainable change in how our communities access mental health and substance use care during times of greatest need;. Services that align with SAMHSA’s recently published National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care shift from a reliance on law enforcement, the justice system and overburdened hospital emergency departments to an approach in which individuals are engaged in focused, high quality, compassionate care in the most cost-effective manner possible.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the lives, health and livelihood of countless Americans, ready access to vital mental health services is paramount,” said American Psychiatric Association CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “APA applauds Rep. Wild’s ongoing leadership to improve access to evidence-based mental health crisis services in communities across the country. These funds will help save lives and help ensure that people who experience a severe mental health crisis do not end up either in costly emergency rooms waiting for hours or days for appropriate care, or in jail.”

“We are appreciative of Representative Wild’s efforts to support crisis services. The increase in the SAMHSA mental health block grant will help states to expand crisis services to better meet the demand that has been exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Brian Hepburn M.D., Executive Director, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

With shortages of both resources and health care professionals only exacerbated by the ongoing public health crisis, states need increased funding to address the rapid increase in demand for mental health services.  Specifically, the additional funding secured by Wild would go toward crisis care services like:

  • Crisis Call Centers – Call centers that coordinate and connect patients and families to behavioral health services in real time.  
  • Mobile Crisis Services – 24/7 mobile crisis services travel to patients offering outreach, support and referrals to appropriate care when and where people are in crisis. 
  • Crisis Stabilization Programs – Stabilization programs offering acute or sub-acute care in a hospital or facility for individuals who need support and observation.

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MIL OSI USA News