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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Congress Continues Focus on Substance Use and Mental Health Issues

October 8, 2015 | Addictions | Workforce | Comments
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The 114th Congress has introduced dozens of substance use and mental health bills addressing a wide range of issues in behavioral health treatment services and funding. This week, two more bills were added to that total. This continued commitment to addressing and enhancing our nation’s behavioral health public safety net is a tremendous sign for consumers, providers, and advocates across the country.

Newly introduced legislation includes:

The Building a Health Care Workforce for the Future Act (S. 2107) authorizes $20 million in grants for scholarships to ensure an adequate supply of medical professionals across the entire health care field, including behavioral and mental health professionals. The bill, authored by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Roy blunt (R-MO), provides scholarships for medical professionals on the condition that upon completion of the professional degree, the graduate will work for at least one year in a health professional shortage area or medically underserved area. The bill also aims to develop and promote no professional competencies as well as increase the role of professional mentors in students’ education.


The Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (H.R. 3677) aims to expand the use of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) in preventing the abuse of prescription opioids, heroin and other controlled substances. The legislation directs the Department of Health and Human Services to award 5-year grants to eligible entities to fund the implementation of SBIRT into clinical practice. Eligible entities include: states, physician organizations, continuing education bodies, peer recovery organizations, and other appropriate health education organizations. H.R. 3677 was introduced by Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL) and three Democratic cosponsors.