Omnibus legislation includes increase in funding to implement 988 as suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin voted for much-needed funding increases for mental health and substance use disorder programs in the 2022 fiscal year appropriations bill that passed Congress last week.
“Many people are struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges as the result of a pandemic that has brought disruption, isolation, and stress. We need to provide more support for people and this legislation does just that, including better mental health services for kids who have had to endure a great deal throughout this pandemic,” said Senator Baldwin. “The opioid epidemic and substance use disorder crisis continues to touch every community across Wisconsin and the pandemic has only made this epidemic worse. With a very troubling increase in fentanyl deaths in Wisconsin, I voted for this legislation because it will deliver an increase in federal funding for our local and state partners to support prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. This legislation takes bold action that will help address this public health crisis and save lives.”
Senator Baldwin worked to secure and support significant new investments to improve mental health access and the nation’s system of crisis care. These investments include:
In addition, the omnibus legislation includes $101.62 million for the transition to 988 for the national suicide prevention lifeline, a $77.6 million increase from FY21. It also includes $5 million for the new Behavioral Health Crisis and 988 Coordinating Office at HHS. In 2019, Senator Baldwin introduced the bipartisan National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which passed Congress and became law in 2020. Converting to this easy-to-remember, three-digit number will strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline network, providing the public with easier access to life-saving services. The Lifeline currently helps thousands of people overcome crisis situations every day. The 988 dialing code will be available nationally for call, text, or chat beginning in July 2022.
“We need to do everything we can to prevent suicide and that means improving the tools we have to help people who are suffering from depression or other mental health concerns. I’m very proud of working to get my bipartisan legislation signed into law and now we are increasing funding to implement 988 so that we make it as quick and easy as possible for Americans in crisis to get the help and support they need through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line,” Baldwin said.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin secured congressionally directed spending that was included in the Omnibus Appropriations Legislation for Fiscal Year 2022. Baldwin worked to include over $2.5 million for Milwaukee County to support the construction of a Mental Health Emergency Center.
“I worked to include this federal funding because it delivers support for Milwaukee County,” said Baldwin. “This federal funding will support the construction of a Mental Health Emergency Center which will strengthen Milwaukee County’s continued efforts to take significant steps to address mental health. The new mental health emergency center will provide assessment, stabilization, emergency treatment and effective connections for follow up and ongoing inpatient, residential community-based outpatient and peer support services to children and adults experiencing a mental health crisis.”
Opioids & Substance Misuse
The United States reached new records in the number of drug overdose fatalities during the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 100,000 lives lost to drug overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021. The omnibus legislation that Senator Baldwin voted for includes important investments to address the nation’s substance misuse crisis, including:
Responding to Substance Abuse in Our Communities
The legislation supported by Senator Baldwin provides our communities and first responders with a total of $572.5 million in dedicated grant program funding to respond to substance use disorder and drug trafficking, an increase of $31 million, or 6 percent, above the fiscal year 2021 funding level. The largest part of this funding is $415 million for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) grants, an increase of $21 million above the fiscal year 2021 funding level, which funds specialized court docket programs like drug, mental health, and veteran treatment courts and substance abuse treatment programs administered by state and local correctional facilities. The bill also funds the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) anti-heroin task force program at $35 million and the COPS anti-methamphetamine task force program at $15 million.