What Does the President’s Budget Mean for Mental Health?

Mar 14, 2014

White House

The federal budget for the U.S. government is determined yearly and outlines the amount of money that will be spent on different expenses in the upcoming year. So why is it important to know what a budget proposes to spend on programs related to mental health? Because it shows how your elected officials value investment in mental health programs, supports and research.

On March 4, the White House released President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for the federal government. It contains specific proposals for a $23 million increase for mental illness research and $130 million in additional funding for early intervention and mental health workforce development. This is a proposed budget to congress with how the president would spend the money for 2015. Congress will be working on their version of the budget as well.

Detailed below are some of the Obama Administration’s 2015 requests for mental illness research, services, supportive housing and veterans’ programs.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The President is requesting a $23 million increase for NIMH for 2015. In addition, the President’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative would receive a $40 million boost, up to $100 million. The BRAIN Initiative is a multi-agency collaborative with a number of foundations designed to unleash new technologies and undertake basic mapping of circuits and neurons in the most complex organ in the human body.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The President is requesting $3.6 billion for SAMHSA, $63.2 million below the 2014 level. At the same time, a targeted number of mental health priorities would receive important increases. Among these are the President’s “Now is the Time” initiative for early intervention, mental health awareness and workforce development. For 2015, $130 million is being sought for the following priorities:

The budget proposes the same amount of funding for the Mental Health Block Grant as 2014 which is $484 million. The Mental Health Block Grant is dedicated to building and supporting the community-based public mental health system across the country. The President is also proposing to continue the new 5 percent set aside in the Block Grant program started by Congress in 2014 for early identification and early intervention for first break psychosis. PATH (outreach and engagement for homeless individuals with mental illness) proposed funding is level at $65 million.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

There is some good news in the President’s budget for supportive housing programs that serve people with mental illness and other significant disabilities including the increases in funding outlined below.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Overall, the President is requesting $163.9 billion, or a 6.5 percent increase over the 2014 budget, for veteran services. The VA projects it will spend $7.2 billion for mental health treatment. In 2015, $1.6 billion is requested for programs to prevent or reduce homelessness, including:

So what happens next? Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate will be working on their proposed budgets. They will then come together to work out the differences in their budgets before it is sent back to the President. Sign up to receive NAMI Action Alerts to stay informed and advocate for mental health to Congress and the White House.

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