The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant is an important source of federal funding for innovative community based mental health services for youth and adults with mental illnesses. The Block Grant, which is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is currently funded at $421 million. If you take inflation into consideration, overall funding for this program has actually decreased in the last 10 years.
In 2010, many states, in response to unprecedented budget deficits, have made significant cuts to their mental health programs. These cuts have resulted in elimination of vital services for youth and adults with mental illnesses. During this time of economic hardship, increased funding for the federal Block Grant is particularly important. NAMI, in partnership other mental health organizations, is advocating for an increase of $100 million in funding for the Block Grant for fiscal year 2011, boosting funding to $521 million.
Please contact your Representative in the U.S. Congress and your two U.S. Senators and urge them to increase funding for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant by $100 million in the fiscal year Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.
All Senate offices can be reached by calling 888-876-6242. Advocates can reach their House member by calling 800-828-0498.
To find a sample letter on this topic, please see below.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D – Michigan) drafted a “Dear Colleague” letter urging support for this increase. This letter was signed by 12 colleagues in the U.S. Senate and sent to the Chair and Ranking Members of the Labor, HHS Appropriations Subcommittee.
Congressman Paul Tonko (D – New York) and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D – California) circulated a similar letter in the House of Representatives, which was signed by 36 colleagues in the House.
In February, NAMI national Board member Kevin Sullivan testified before Congress on the impact of the economy on publicly funded mental health services and the need to increase funding for the Mental Health Block Grant program.