Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urged Senate leadership to include robust funding for substance use disorder and mental health care services in the next coronavirus relief package. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues and substance use disorders, while support services have been reduced. Additional funding for substance use disorder and mental health care services is crucial in order to provide individuals with the essential resources to begin and sustain recovery, and to better equip family members to find help for their loved ones and obtain support for themselves.
“As the addiction crisis grows, individuals and their families are in dire need of resources to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. The coronavirus pandemic has placed a heavy burden on mental health care and substance use disorder support services and we must ensure they are able to help the millions of Americans in need” said Senator Gillibrand. “This funding, and the inclusion of my bipartisan Family Support Services for Addiction Act in the next relief package, would establish a funding stream so that nonprofits and organizations that support those recovering from substance use disorder, and their families, can keep their doors open. As increased isolation and anxiety collides with treatment and support system disruptions, those struggling with mental health and addiction, and their caregivers, need our support more than ever.”
Due to the pandemic, the combination of social distancing, lost jobs, increased financial stress, lack of structured time, and uncertainty about the future have caused drug overdoses to nearly double. Compared to 2019, overdoses increased by 18% in March, 29% in April, and 42% in May. Additionally, the COVID-19 crisis has interrupted traditional care services — many mental health and addiction support providers, which were overburdened before the pandemic, are facing financial strain and are at risk of shutting their doors. In New York alone, one in three community behavioral health organizations expects to close their doors within the next six months due to financial uncertainty.
Full text of the letter can be found here and below.