No one is immune from the challenges of mental health and substance use.
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., reminded us of that when he announced he would seek treatment for clinical depression.
And last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nearly one in three high school girls in 2021 will seriously consider suicide, a poignant reminder of just how widespread the mental health crisis is in our country. reminded me.
Age, gender, race and status are just details when it comes to mental health challenges, and a huge amount of work remains to help increase the number of people seeking treatment. We must strengthen our ability to connect Americans to care and deliver care, overcome labor shortages, and expand access to evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery.
Finding meaningful solutions to address the mental health and substance use crisis requires a bipartisan approach.
Substance use and mental health programs received well-deserved federal support in 2022. The year-end funding package passed in December 2022 and the bipartisan Safe Communities Act signed in June 2022 resulted in more federal funding in a year. Help those with mental health and substance use problems more than any session of Congress has seen.
This includes funding to combat the opioid epidemic, subsidizing mental health block grants, investing in accredited community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and substance abuse and mental health services. Support for Suicide Prevention of the Administration (SAMHSA) is included. activity.
In addition to funding, legislation passed last year included expanding the CCBHC demonstration program by allowing states or territories the opportunity to participate in the program. It also included passage of the Improved Mental Health Access Act, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, and the Expanded Access to Medicines and Training Act, which lawmakers shoved into year-end funding packages.
These are monumental legislative achievements and 2022 can be looked back on as a watershed moment for our sector. But it is no coincidence that we have made historic progress. It wasn’t luck. There is no substitute for bipartisanship.Today, our field has numerous allies on both sides of the aisle who understand the urgency of the mental health and substance use crisis.
Senators Chris Murphy (Democrat, Connecticut) and John Cornyn (Republican, Texas) introduced a bipartisan Safe Communities Act.
Senator Mike Crapo (Republican, Idaho) makes a commitment through CCBHC to expand access to services, expand telehealth capabilities, and promote integrated physical and mental health care services in Idaho and across the country. has long been shown.
2021 Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Excellence Gains Bipartisan Support in the Senate — Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) , Steve Danes (R-Montana), Rep. Katherine Cortez Mast (D-Nevada), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tina Smith (D-Minnesota), Jon Tester (D-Montana) , and recently retired Senator Roy Brandt (Republican-Missouri) — and House of Representatives — Doris Matsui (Democrat-California), Markwayne Mullin (Republican-Oklahoma), Angie Craig (Democrat-Minnesota), David McKinley (RW.Va.), Paul Tonko (DN.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Republican).
Much more work remains, and we encourage lawmakers to build on the progress we have made in 2022.
Labor shortages are making it difficult to meet the overwhelming demand for mental health and substance use treatment. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) estimated that the shortage of mental health professionals had grown from 2,593 in 2013 to nearly 8,000 in 2022. reported. Ten years ago, it was 94.8 million, according to HRSA.
These trends must be reversed. Ongoing investment is required to attract and retain workers. We need to further develop pipelines that offer multiple avenues for employment in growth areas. Investments in programs to develop the mental health and substance use workforce can help overcome workforce shortages. More importantly, it helps people in need of care who cannot find a provider.
That is why we will work with legislators on both sides of the aisle to ensure that substance use and mental health programs receive funding. continue. And we will do everything we can to make mental health a reality for all, including recovery from substance use problems.
Charles Ingoglia is President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.