March 01, 2018

Warren, Sanders Request $1 Billion for Mental Health Programs

Senators Urge Appropriators to Double Funding for Key Grant Programs at SAMHSA

Text of the letter (PDF)

Washington, DC –United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today sent a letter to Senate Appropriators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), urging them to appropriate $1 billion in FY 2018 to mental health programs through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). 

While the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which passed last month, included $6 billion to address the opioid and mental health crisis, the legislation did not specify how that funding would be allocated.  In their letter, the Senators requested that a portion of that funding be appropriated to double the funding for SAMHSA’s two primary mental health programs: the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) and the Programs of Regional and National Significance (PRNS). 

The MHBG is the federal government’s largest source of funding for mental health services, while the PRNS also help address the nation’s mental health needs through a variety of grant programs.  “Appropriating an additional $1 billion each year to these programs would double the funding level of each program and allow states and behavioral health organizations to better address the significant unmet need for mental health services and the increasing toll of the opioid epidemic,” the senators wrote. 

The Senators’ work to secure this additional funding is supported by the Association for Behavioral Healthcare and Massachusetts Medical Society:

“The Association for Behavioral Healthcare (ABH) applauds Senator Warren’s leadership in ensuring that the Senate budget deal includes $6 billion in new funding for opioid addiction and mental health services,” said Vic DiGravio, President of the ABH.  “Our members are working in communities across Massachusetts to serve individuals with mental health and addiction disorders.  Every day they struggle to meet the overwhelming demand for treatment.  This new funding championed by Senator Warren will bring needed new resources to the fights against addiction and mental illness.”

“Treatment of mental illness and substance use disorder is an essential part of health care, especially during the ongoing opioid crisis. The Senate budget package includes needed funds to enhance patient access to mental health services and treatment for substance use disorder,” said Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “We’re grateful to Senator Warren for leading the charge to ensure increased federal funding that will help the nation’s physicians better provide quality care to patients through comprehensive mental health services.”