Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, and three other members of Congress introduced a bipartisan mental health bill on Tuesday.
The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant Reauthorization Act, H.R. 7241 would reauthorize funding for the Mental Health Block Grant program that’s administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“Expanding access to mental health services can be lifesaving to those battling serious mental illnesses,” Garcia said in a prepared statement. “This is especially important for the many children struggling with mental health issues resulting from the two years of COVID-19 lockdowns. Reauthorizing the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program will provide our community with the tools needed to help those struggling with mental health illnesses. I’m proud to help lead the effort to reauthorize this lifesaving grant program.”
Congressional representatives Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, Elaine Luria, D-Virginia, and G.K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina, co-sponsored the bill.
“Over the last decade,” Crenshaw said, “and especially in the past two years, we’ve seen a rise in cases stemming from mental health issues — so this funding comes at a timely moment for children and adults who are suffering from this mental health crisis. This bill reauthorizes the successful community mental health block grant program, allowing states the flexibility to deliver solutions outside of the one-size-fits-all methodology of Washington, D.C.”
Luria said, “I am proud to co-lead this bipartisan legislation that provides essential funding for mental health services and benefits families across the United States. This bill will fund services such as crisis call centers, 24/7 mobile crisis services and crisis stabilization programs, and require that states expend 5% of the amount on evidence-based programs. This program will be a key resource for many Americans, and I thank Reps. Butterfield, Crenshaw and Garcia for their leadership.”
And Butterfield said, “Our country is in the midst of a mental health crisis, which was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our friends, neighbors and loved ones continue to struggle due to the many challenges they’ve endured over the past few years. Our nation must make strong investments in mental health and substance use disorder care, which is why reauthorizing the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program is critical for our country’s health. I am proud to work with my colleagues to reauthorize this vital program.”
According to the bill, while every state may decide how they spend the funding provided by the program, the funds must be used to aid adults with serious mental illnesses or children with serious emotional disturbances. MHBG provides states with funding to implement mental health programs with a wide range of flexibilities. Subject to appropriations, SAMSHA provides funding to the states that can then sub-grant funds to local governments and non-governmental organizations subject to a plan created by the states.