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$900 Million Investment in Mental Health Services is Most Significant in Decades

For Immediate Release                                                                       
March 31, 2014  

Contact: Heather Cobb 202 684-7457 ext. 277, heatherc@thenationalcouncil.org

Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate today passed legislation that included $900 million to fund the bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act.  The legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week as part of the Medicare SGR Repeal bill, establishes a two year demonstration program in eight states to offer a broad range of mental health and substance use treatment services, including 24-hour crisis psychiatric services, while setting new standards for provider organizations.

“This represents the largest single federal investment in community-based mental and substance use treatment in well over a generation,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.  “After decades of devastating funding cuts, this represents a turning point in terms of federal support of community mental health services.  As many as 240,000 people will be able to receive critical behavioral health services as a result of Excellence Act funding. Much work remains to ensure quality mental health and substance use treatment services are available to all who need them, but today is a day for celebrating this historic moment.  And for applauding the bill’s tireless bipartisan champions, Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Blunt (R-MO) along with Representatives Matsui (D-CA) and Lance (R-NJ).”

“When people receive the quality mental health and substance use treatment they need, the benefits extend far beyond the individual – to their families, their professional colleagues and their community at large,” said Rosenberg.  “We are all better off when quality mental health and substance use services are available.”

“Today’s vote is a landmark step forward in the effort to expand community mental health services for people living with mental illness and reduce the stigma around mental illness.  This is a critically important issue that touches all of our families in some way and this legislation is one of the most significant steps in decades to expand access to care.  I’m so thankful for the National Council for Mental Wellbeing’s strong support as we worked in a bipartisan way to strengthen mental health services,” said Senator Stabenow.

The National Council for Mental Wellbeing has long been a champion of the Excellence Act, which expands access to evidenced-based community health care for children and adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses and addiction disorders.  The legislation will reduce high hospital emergency room utilization among persons living with behavioral health conditions while easing the burden on hard-pressed law enforcement agencies in urban and rural areas.  Additionally, the Excellence Act demonstration will assist the the young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with service-connected mental disorders, including clinical depression and PTSD.

To arrange media interviews with Linda Rosenberg of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, please contact: Amanda Deaver at 202-207-3631 or adeaver@prismpublicaffairs.com 

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