Representative Tim Ryan Introduces Legislation to Support Mental Health & Addiction Services During Coronavirus Pandemic | Congressman Tim Ryan
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Representative Tim Ryan Introduces Legislation to Support Mental Health & Addiction Services During Coronavirus Pandemic

February 9, 2021
Press Release
The Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act would expand mental health and substance use disorder services; Legislation would authorize $100 million to initiate or expand qualifying programs in response to the pandemic

Washington, DC — Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), Co-Chair of the Congressional Addiction Treatment and Recovery Caucus, joins with Congressman John Katko (R-NY) and Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Todd Young (R-IN), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to reintroduce bipartisan legislation directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to establish a Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Network. These grants would go to eligible entities offering appropriate mental health and addiction services, including Indian tribes, qualified nonprofit organizations, and health care providers.

The Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act would include an emergency authorization of $100 million to initiate or expand programs offering mental health and substance use disorder services in response to the pandemic, including support groups, telephone helplines and websites, training programs, telehealth services, and outreach services.

“For many who struggle with mental health and substance abuse disorders, fear of the coronavirus, increased economic hardship, and the challenge of staying home and social distancing have only made existing conditions harder and created new struggles for people across the country. This legislation will provide Americans with the resources and support they need to combat this crisis,” said Congressman Tim Ryan.

“For those struggling with substance use and mental health disorders, the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the challenges they face and made it more difficult to access care. That’s why, alongside Congressman Ryan and Senators Klobuchar and Young, I am proud to introduce the Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act. By providing $100 million in emergency funds for mental health and substance use disorder treatment and outreach providers, our bipartisan and bicameral legislation will ensure those who need help during the crisis can safely access care,” said Congressman John Katko.

The companion legislation is led in the Senate by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Todd Young (R-IN), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

“Mental health and substance use disorder services are critical as we help people through this tough time,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This legislation will expand access to vitally important programs so Americans can get the support and treatment they need.”

“This pandemic has been hard on Americans. Now more than ever, we must prioritize mental health by dedicating resources like telehealth, support groups, and outreach services so people can get the help that they need,” said Senator Young. “I introduced the Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act to provide mental health and addiction services and treatment to Hoosiers struggling at home.”

“COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down – from requiring Americans to limit interactions with others, to creating difficulties and delays in health care services. For those struggling with mental health concerns and substance abuse disorders, these impacts have been acutely felt, and they have made it even more difficult to access treatment and stay on track with their care. We must do everything we can to bridge these gaps, and this legislation will do just that. It’s urgent that we provide more support to those struggling in the face of COVID-19, and I urge my colleagues to pass this legislation at once,” said Senator Van Hollen.

The Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act has been endorsed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness; National Alliance on Mental Illness (Minnesota chapter); American Counseling Association; Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation; American Psychiatric Association; American Society of Addiction Medicine; and Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs.

Our nation is facing an unprecedented mental health challenge in response to the coronavirus outbreak. For many people who live with mental illness and substance use disorders, fear of the virus, increased economic hardship, and the challenge of maintaining a safe distance from others have created new mental health and addiction hurdles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use in late June. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll also found that 53% of U.S. adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress about the coronavirus.

Additional relief is needed to address the growing mental health and addiction crisis in the United States and to advance an effective and comprehensive public health response to the pandemic. The Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act would address the growing mental health and addiction crisis in the U.S. by helping people connect with the services and care they need to manage mental health and substance use disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation would also direct the Department of Health and Human Services to gather data to better understand the effects of the pandemic on mental health and addiction and make recommendations on how to improve future mental health and addiction response efforts.

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