“In Maine, drug overdose deaths increased by more than 20 percent in the first three months of the pandemic, and calls to suicide prevention hotlines have soared.”
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced an amendment to the COVID-19 relief package that would provide an additional $4.5 billion in emergency funds for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Programs like SAMHSA have been instrumental in helping to combat the opioid crisis.
Unfortunately, across the nation, drug overdose deaths are rising, reversing much of the progress seen over the past couple of years. Moreover, many Americans’ mental health has suffered due to the pressures caused by the pandemic.
“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,” said Senator Collins. “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.”
“Our nation is facing unprecedented challenges right now,” Senator 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.”
Senators Collins and Capito’s measure provides $4.5 billion.
Below is a full breakdown of the funds included in the amendment:
· Mental Health Services Block Grant – $2 billion, of which, no less than 50 percent of funds shall be directed to behavioral health providers
· Substance Abuse and Prevention Treatment Block Grant – $1.5 billion.
· Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics – $600 million.
· Suicide Prevention Programs – $50 million.
· Project AWARE – $100 million to support mental health once children return to school.
· Emergency Grants to States – $250 million for flexible emergency grants to states