The National Council on Behavioral Health issued a press release on Tuesday, December 16, 2015, responding favorably to the jointly negotiated compromise bill to keep the government funded through fiscal year 2016. The omnibus appropriations bill includes increases to key programs funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Among the highlights of the 2016 funding bill are:
$1.779 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, a $38.2 million increase over 2015 levels.
Funding for various opioid abuse prevention initiatives, including:
Within the Targeted Capacity Expansion program, an increase of $13 million vs. 2015 levels to expand services that address prescription drug abuse and heroin use in high-risk communities. The funding provided will increase the number of States that receive Targeted Capacity Expansion funding from 11 to 22.
Within the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, $12 million for discretionary grants to States to prevent opioid overdose-related deaths. This program will help States equip and train first responders with the use of devices that rapidly reverse the effects of opioids.
Within the Strategic Prevention Framework Rx program, $10 million to increase awareness of opioid abuse and misuse in communities.
$15 million for Mental Health First Aid, the third consecutive year Congress has provided funding for this public education and awareness program.
$50 million for Primary Care-Behavioral Health Integration, reversing President Obama’s proposed cut to this program that provides grants to co-locate mental and physical health services in community behavioral health settings.
$511 million for the Mental Health Block Grant, a $50 million increase over 2015 levels. The agreement also increases the proportion of the required set-aside for early intervention services from five percent of block grant funds to 10 percent. The $50 million funding increase more than fully offsets the increased set-aside.
The omnibus funding bill includes increases for a variety of mental health and addiction research activities. Funding for the BRAIN Initiative is set at $150 million in 2016, a $85 million increase vs. 2015 levels. The agreement also provides increases for research conducted through the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
On Wednesday, December 17, 2015, the House passed another short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running until both chambers have approved the omnibus bill.
The National Council’s official statement on the Mental Health First Aid appropriation can be found here.