$300M Towards School-Based Mental Health, Study on MAT During COVID-19


$300M To Go Towards School-Based Mental Health Services

Last week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that nearly $300 million, secured through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, will be put towards improving school-based mental health services. Two new programs have been introduced, the Mental Health Service Professional (MHSP) Demonstration Grant and the School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) Services Grant, both of which will provide support to the workforce by increasing the number of mental health professionals available to provide services. In addition, funding will be put towards providing trauma-informed care to youth experiencing community violence, as well as increasing integrated services available for students and their families.

Top Stories

Study Focused on Medication-Assisted Treatment During COVID-19: A recent study explored the per capita supply of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings indicated that while the per capita supply of buprenorphine increased slightly in 2020, the per capita supply of methadone dropped by 20% the same year. While more research needs to be conducted to examine the full scope of this methadone decline, researchers noted permitted changes in barriers to buprenorphine treatment as a possible explanation for the increase in per capita supply. While the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) methadone take-home and telehealth policies have offered flexibility, there are still limitations for those on medication-assisted treatment, particularly methadone. This includes policies requiring in-person visits for new patients, as well as geographical limitations inhibiting access to Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) in some communities.

HHS Offers Guidance Regarding Nondiscrimination in Telehealth: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released joint guidance regarding nondiscrimination in telehealth services. This report arrives the same week that HHS announced its rule to enact nondiscrimination provisions in the Affordable Care Act. HHS highlights their existing website, which can help practitioners assist patients with technological barriers, including recommendations for people with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency. The report also makes note of HHS’s Office for Telehealth Advancement, which has overseen the Telehealth Resource Center’s available grant programs. For a full breakdown of resources, see pages 11-12 of the report.

Approval of Uniform Telehealth Act: The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) has recently published its Uniform Telehealth Act. This proposed legislation focuses on creating consistency in telehealth services while striving to make access to health care easier and more efficient for patients. The proposal defines telehealth, as well as outlines a breakdown of the permitted scope of services. Further, guidance is provided for practitioners and presents a registration platform for those looking to provide services out-of-state.

Submit Award Nominations in Preparation for Recovery Month: The National Recovery Month Planning Partners is currently calling for nominations for the Ramstad- Kennedy Annual Award. The Award will recognize a State Agency Director who has shown tremendous support of recovery and exceptional leadership. To nominate a Single State Authority (SSA) Director, review the identified criteria and complete the corresponding application by Tuesday, September 6 at 11:59 p.m. (ET). The winner of the award will be announced at the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) quarterly board meeting on Thursday, September 22.

Advocacy Corner

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Happenings On The Hill

Administration Addresses Youth Mental Health in Recent Letter: As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s recent efforts to advance school-based mental health services, HHS Secretary Becerra and Department of Education (DOE) Secretary Cardona sent letters urging governors to prioritize youth mental health across the country. The notice highlighted various federal resources made available through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, including the further development and implementation of 9-8-8, as well as increased training for healthcare professionals and first responders.

By Jessica Williams