U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) Friday announced a major expansion of behavioral health services across the country to meet the growing need for mental health and addiction services during the COVID-19 crisis.
The senators announced that 134 community behavioral health organizations have been selected as Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics and will receive a total of $489 million in funding over the next two years.
With new centers receiving funding, Blunt and Stabenow’s program brings services to a total of 41 states across the country.
This funding comes from the $850 million the lawmakers secured for the national Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Expansion Grants program in COVID-19 relief legislation that was signed into law last year. Blunt and Stabenow also secured a three-year extension of their bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act, which established Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, resulting in the most significant expansion of community mental health and addiction services in decades.
These clinics provide a comprehensive set of high-quality behavioral health services including 24/7/365 crisis services; outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment services; immediate screenings, risk assessments, and diagnoses; and care coordination with emergency rooms, law enforcement, and veteran groups.
“Our nation is facing an unprecedented mental health crisis,” said Blunt. “More than half of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health. There has been a double digit increase in the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression. Drug overdoses are surging. Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) are a critical part of the mental health response to the pandemic. Since Senator Stabenow and I worked together to establish CCBHCs through the Excellence in Mental Health Act, these clinics have proven successful in getting people comprehensive mental health and addiction services sooner and closer to home. The funding announced today will expand access to care and provide additional support to centers in Missouri and states across the nation. I’ll keep working with my colleagues to ensure CCBHCs have the funding they need through the pandemic and beyond.”
“The COVID-19 crisis has shown a spotlight on the urgent and continuing need to fund comprehensive community mental health and addiction services. One out of five Americans have a mental illness or substance abuse disorder. And now even more families are struggling during this pandemic,” said Stabenow. “This historic funding increase will allow more people to get the help they need in their community. It also provides important momentum to fully-fund certified behavioral health services across our country. I am proud to partner with Senator Blunt in this important effort.”
“This dramatic expansion of CCBHCs is an acknowledgement of the model’s value and success,” said Chuck Ingoglia, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “The investment in CCBHCs is an investment in people and communities across the country. I’m so thankful to those in Congress, at SAMHSA and in communities and states who support the expansion of CCBHCs. As we battle a pandemic, rising mental health distress and an overdose crisis, investing in the health and wellbeing of people through the expansion of accessible and high-quality care provided by CCBHCs will provide long-lasting benefits for communities.”
For years, Blunt and Stabenow have led the effort to transform the way mental health and addiction treatment services are delivered in communities across the country.
In addition to COVID-19 relief funding, they secured $250 million in the FY21 appropriations bill for the national Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Expansion Grants program. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act also extended the Excellence program and expanded it to two states. Michigan and Missouri are both part of the program, which is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
A report by the National Council for Behavioral Health shows that CCBHCs are increasing access to high-quality mental health and addiction treatment.
For example, in the first year of operations, 93% of CCBHCs provided staff training in suicide prevention and response, 87% reported an increased number of patients served, and 94% reported an increase in the number of patients treated for addiction.
Mental illness and substance use affect about one in five people in our country.
Only 12% of Americans struggling with addiction receive treatment in any given year, and only 43% of people with mental illness receive the care they need. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for ages 10-34, and drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.