NAMI Applauds Congressional Focus on Mental Health in Year-End Legislation
Arlington, VA — This week, congressional leadership released a $1.7 trillion spending package that includes significant investments to expand mental health care and policy changes that will help improve the lives of people affected by mental health conditions. NAMI applauds the omnibus legislation, which will fund the federal government through the remainder of the 2023 fiscal year (FY 23) and is expected to be passed by the Senate and House before a December 23 federal government funding deadline.
“Mental health is the bipartisan issue of our time, and NAMI is grateful that Congress has come together to make important investments in mental health,” said NAMI Chief Executive Officer Daniel H. Gillison Jr. “Our country is in an ongoing mental health crisis, which is impacting our kids, our friends, our families and our communities. We appreciate that Congress recognizes this urgent issue, and we are grateful for the significant bipartisan collaboration that has brought us to this point. We look forward to continuing to work with congressional leaders to enact proposals that didn’t get included in this end-of-year package to ensure that every person in this country gets the help they need and deserve.”
NAMI applauds the substantial investments included in the year-end legislation, including:
- Improving crisis care: Providing $501.6 million for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a nearly $400 million increase from FY 22, supporting the 988 network to increase capacity as demand continues to grow. Additionally, the bill:
- Provides $20 million for the Mental Health Crisis Response Partnership Pilot Program, double the $10 million appropriated in FY 22, that will help communities establish mobile crisis teams that provide a non-law enforcement response to people in mental health crises.
- Expands access to mobile crisis response by increasing Medicare payments for certain crisis services provided by a mobile crisis unit, starting in 2024.
- Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue guidance on how to develop an effective crisis continuum of care. These provisions will support expansion of services for people in a mental health, substance use or suicidal crisis.
- Extending telehealth flexibilities: Extending telehealth provisions in Medicare through the end of 2024, including delaying the in-person requirement to receive tele-mental health and allowing audio-only telehealth. These changes have made it easier for many people to access mental health care.
- Expanding the mental health workforce: Adding marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors as covered providers in Medicare starting in 2024, vastly expanding capacity in the mental health workforce.
- Improving care for justice-involved youth: Requiring states to provide screening, diagnostic care and case management services for justice-involved youth eligible for Medicaid or CHIP 30 days prior to their release from incarceration starting in 2025. These changes will help ease the transition back to the community by connecting youth to vital mental health services that can help reduce recidivism.
The legislation also reauthorizes key Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) programs through 2027.
For FY 23, Congress made key investments in several important mental health programs, including:
- $2.34 billion for the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), a $120.9 million increase from FY 22, which includes $225 million for the BRAIN Initiative.
- $1.01 billion for the Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG), a $150 million increase from FY 22 and the first time the block grant has been funded at over a billion dollars. The MHBG helps state and local governments address gaps and needs in their communities, including requiring states to spend at least 5% of their block grant funds for mental health crisis services.
- $360 million for Section 811 housing, an $8 million increase from FY 22 that makes $148.3 million available for new capital advance grants, which are projected to create 1,600 new units.
- $13.9 billion for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, an increase of $700 million from FY 22.
“While our work to advocate for individuals and families affected by mental illness is never done, we are gratified to see Congress’ ongoing commitment to addressing our mental health crisis,” said Gillison. “NAMI urges the Senate and House to quickly pass this omnibus funding package.”
NAMI’s nationwide network of more than 100,000 advocates has been fighting for better crisis response services, expanded workforce capacity, improvements in access to care and increases in research funding. However, the fight does not end here, and NAMI remains committed continuing to advocate to ensure federal policymakers take necessary actions to help build better lives for all people affected by mental illness.
To see more details on how the legislation impacts mental health, click here.