Pass Changes That Increase Funding and Access to Mental Health Services
Dear [Decision Maker],
Thank you for your efforts to prioritize mental health during this unprecedented public health crisis. The United States was already experiencing rising rates of suicide and increasing reports of mental health conditions before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We need our federal government to intentionally address what many experts are calling the second crisis.
As health workers on the frontline face horrific conditions in hospitals in COVID-19 hot spots, as essential workers put their lives at risk to ensure the delivery of goods and services, as people in isolation increasingly have a hard time managing thoughts of self-harm and suicide, and as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) affected by the trauma of racism manage to survive, it is clear that a second health crisis is burgeoning -- a mental health and substance use disorder crisis layered on top of the existing health and economic crises. Please provide relief to those struggling to get to the other side of the pandemic by: - Providing for a $1.5 billion increase in funding for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant; - Permanently expanding authority and coverage of telehealth especially telemental health services permanently beyond the emergency declaration; - Increasing the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) up to 12 percent; and - Passing the Medicaid Reentry Act, providing Medicaid coverage 30 days prior to release from criminal justice settings. Additional funding for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant will help states and local governments provide services as many states face budget shortfalls and plan to instead cut funding from mental health accounts. Expanded coverage of telemental health services has allowed people with mental health conditions to stay in treatment or get into treatment at a time when it is unsafe to meet in person. To help keep safety net Medicaid providers afloat, many of which have seen drastic increases in demand for services, an increase in federal matching funds (FMAP) for Medicaid is needed. And, activation of Medicaid for individuals coming out of justice system settings helps many overcome the major hurdle of paying for treatment as they manage reintegrating into the community. The first 60 days back into the community is the highest risk period for many justice involved individuals and often times having access to health care is the difference between life and death.
Mental Health America's (MHA's) online screening program saw a significant increase in people experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm with over 21,000 people in May alone, and an over 300 percent increase in the average number of daily anxiety and depression screens, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. The profound mental health effects of these compounding crises will be lasting if swift action is not taken to meet the needs of individuals facing trauma, human and financial losses, and increased isolation and loneliness. Please hear our calls for help and respond to our country's second crisis. Thank you for working to address the second crisis and providing relief to Americans who have been left behind in previous COVID-19 funding packages. For more data and statistics, feel free to visit www.mhanational.org.
[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP] [Your Email]