Senators Stabenow, Blunt Announce Finalists for First-of-its-kind Mental Health Initiative

Monday, October 19, 2015

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) today announced that 24 states will compete in a nation-wide program to improve and expand access to mental health care. This first-of-its-kind initiative is based on Senator Stabenow and Senator Blunt's Excellence in Mental Health Act, which is one of the most significant steps forward in community mental health funding in decades. Selected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,these 24 states are one step closer to being chosen to be part of a new eight-state demonstration program to expand quality mental health care. This new program will offer patients increased services like 24-hour crisis psychiatric care, counseling, and integrated treatments for mental illness. The Senators' bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health Act was signed into law by President Obama last year.

"Mental illness touches every family in some way," Senator Stabenow said. "It is critically important that communities in Michigan and across the country have the resources they need to help everyone living with mental illness. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Blunt to make sure illnesses above the neck are treated the same as illnesses below the neck."

"I am pleased that Missouri is one of twenty four states that have received a planning grant in order to help people suffering from mental illness," said Senator Roy Blunt. "I am pleased that there is so much enthusiasm for our Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstrations. It's time we treat mental health like all other health."

"The Excellence in Mental Health Act is the biggest federal investment in behavioral health care in over 40 years," said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health. "The awarding of state planning grants gets us a step closer to bringing high quality treatment to people who need help and the families that love them. The Senate and House Excellence in Mental Health Act champions deserve our congratulations and our thanks. Their efforts will change lives for the better."

The 24 states selected will work with interested community mental health centers, Federally-Qualified Health Centers, VA clinics, and other mental health organizations to design a state program that meets the new quality standards for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers. The eight states chosen to participate in the demonstration program will increase funding for community mental health services and improve the quality of those services. This is the first step toward funding quality behavioral health services in communities nation-wide.

Senators Stabenow and Blunt introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act in February 2013 to put mental health centers on a more equal footing with other health centers by improving quality standards and expanding access. The law is supported by over 50 mental health organizations, veterans organizations and law enforcement organizations including: the National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs' Association, American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health America, National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Give An Hour, among many others.