The funding is the largest amount mental health and substance use disorders has received in a single spending bill, indicating recognition of the mental health concerns caused by the pandemic.
In an effort to meet the rising mental health crisis the nation is currently facing, congressional leaders recently designated $4.25 billion for mental health and substance use disorders – the largest amount of funding these services have received in a single spending bill.
While the funding, which is included in the most recent Congressional COVID relief bill, recognizes the need for mental health services resulting from the pandemic, the American Counseling Association stands with other mental health advocates and organizations in sounding the alarm that much more is required to support the work ahead for mental health counselors and others on the frontlines.
“The mental health system was reaching its breaking point pre-pandemic,” said Richard Yep, CEO of the American Counseling Association. “The strain of rising costs blocking access to support, the shortage of mental health professionals and the tragedy of disproportionately impacted communities of color has been compounded due to the pandemic, and therefore, requires relief equivalent to the magnitude of the crisis before us.”
The lingering effects of the pandemic that will result in mental health concerns have yet to be realized. Mental health experts calculate that almost $40 billion is needed to support mental health and treatment providers and ensure access to key services—this current round of funding only meets about 10% of the need.
“In addition, our first responders working in the health care system have faced unprecedented trauma and dealt with crises constantly for nearly a year. These individuals will need the services of mental health counselors and related professionals as well,” said Yep.
ACA will continue to advocate for bills that ensure as many people as possible get cost-effective mental health care and that every person—regardless of race, location, or circumstance— have equal access to quality mental health support.
“To those elected officials who had the vision to support funding for mental health services in the COVID relief bill, we say thank you. However, we also say that it simply isn’t enough,” said Yep.