NAMI Statement on Mental Health Investments in Bipartisan Senate Legislation
Jun 22 2022
Today, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released the following statement after the Senate released the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which includes significant investments in mental health, particularly for our nation’s youth.
“Our country is in the midst of a mental health crisis, and our children are particularly impacted,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr. “NAMI applauds the work of a bipartisan group of Senators recognizing the urgent need to invest in mental health services for our nation’s youth and families. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will expand mental health resources in schools and increase the availability of mental health care across the country. When paired with the strong bipartisan mental health packages already under consideration in Congress, we can turn the tide on our country’s mental health crisis.
“At the same time, we must avoid conflating mental illness with gun violence. People with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, and pointing to mental illness as the cause of gun violence perpetuates discrimination and stigma that discourages people from seeking help. We must be cautious in how we discuss and address the causes of gun violence. We should be making mental health investments because it is the right thing to do – not because it will have a tangible impact on mass shootings.
“We’re facing multiple crises impacting our communities and causing ongoing trauma and pain throughout our nation. Fortunately, mental health is not a partisan issue. We are grateful for the ongoing, bipartisan focus on mental health and call on Congress to continue to work on solutions that improve our nation’s wellbeing.&
Key mental health investments in the legislation include:
- $250 million for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program, an important resource to help states fill gaps in their mental health system (over four years)
- $150 million to help implement the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (in Fiscal Year 2022)
- $1 billion split between the School-Based Mental Health Service Grant program and School-Based Mental Health Services Professional Demonstration Program to help schools hire and retain school mental health professionals and build a pipeline of future professionals (over five years)
- $80 million to support the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program, which offers telehealth to pediatricians to support the mental health needs of children and adolescents (over four years)
- $240 million for Project AWARE grants for school-based mental health programs (over four years)
- Expands the existing Medicaid Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program to increase access to community based behavioral health services
- Requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue guidance to states on how to improve access to telehealth under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and issue updated guidance on billing services in school-based settings
Read NAMI’s statement on conflating gun violence with mental illness here as well as a statement with 59 other organizations on mental illness and gun violence here.