Mental Health Spending Bill
The first responder mental health spending bill has been a hot topic in Washington and around the country. There are several areas that have been discussed including the Expiration of Term of Service Sponsorship Program (ETS-SP), Evidence-based therapies, and block grants. It is clear that there is a need to address this area of spending and if the funds are not forthcoming, then it is time to rethink how to approach funding this program.
The new $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), includes several mental health initiatives. This includes the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant Program, which are a part of the gun law, and Mental Health Awareness Training Grants, which are part of the gun safety measure.
First responders can benefit from these funds. They are designed to address the mental health needs of people who may be vulnerable to firearm violence. These grants are administered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. In addition to funding treatment and recovery services, the program also provides short-term interventions for disaster victims.
The Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program is a federal grant that aims to improve access to behavioral health services for children in the United States. The program supports networks of pediatric mental health care teams in schools and emergency departments. It also funds telehealth behavioral health services.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 contains a number of initiatives related to mental health. One such program is the Targeted Opioid Response program. It aims to reduce the number of unmet treatment needs among opioid users.
There are a number of other initiatives to help expand access to behavioral health care. This includes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), which funds the behavioral health continuum of care. In addition, federal grants are awarded to local behavioral health authorities in disaster areas.
There is also the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program, which provides funding for regional networks of pediatric mental health care teams. This program also provides telehealth behavioral health services.
Another noteworthy program is the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program. This program promotes innovative partnerships between higher education and school districts. A new law allocates $40 million over four years to the program.
Expiration of Term of Service Sponsorship Program (ETS-SP)
The Expiration of Term of Service Sponsorship Program for First Responder Mental Health Spending Act is a bit of a mixed bag. In addition to the usual suspects, it also includes a host of worthy kinks. Nonetheless, it does have some interesting quirks, which will likely be addressed in one form or another over the next several months. Among the most noteworthy are the newfound funding for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which is a long overdue addition to an agency that's tasked with protecting the nation's citizens against the nefarious perils of the outside world. It also provides a much needed boost to the already overtaxed National Institute of Justice, which is no doubt responsible for a number of the crimes that plague our nation. If the Senate heeds this advice, we should have a few months of merriment ahead of us.
Impact of no new funds on first responder mental health spending bill
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides substantial funding for mental health services. However, it does not address many other investments. For example, the National Institutes of Health is not included in the bill. That's a concern for states that plan to spend federal funds on mental health campaigns.
This includes funding for the Denver STAR Program, a partnership between paramedics and mental health clinicians. Last year, the program reacted to seven hundred and fifty-eight mental health incidents.
Another priority is behavioral health crisis response teams. Since 2022, states have been aiming to increase the number of these teams. Some jurisdictions are already introducing them. In Arizona, for instance, Medicaid funds have been allocated to cover the cost of expanding these programs.
A task force is examining how to spend $450 million of these funds. It is focusing on access, workforce shortages, and affordability. The task force is expected to make its recommendations by the end of the year.