Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act last month. This legislation would support the nation’s community mental health and addictions system by establishing national standards and oversight for Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Centers (FQCBHCs). For the 1 in 5 Americans living with mental illnesses and addictions, this would mean greater access to the services and treatments needed to keep them healthy and safe in their communities.
“Behavioral health has long been left out of the federal dictionary,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “As a result, mental health and addiction providers cannot receive the critical federal funds that support other safety net providers. They share the unique responsibilities of the safety-net — but none of the supports.”
Community mental health and addiction providers struggle to meet the existing needs of vulnerable Americans because of cobbled funding streams and insufficient resources.
In a statement made at the Capitol, Rosenberg said, “Over the 30 years I’ve worked in behavioral health, I have heard an untold number of stories about real people who need care, but go without. I’ve seen ERs so mired down by the needs of people with mental illnesses and addictions that it interferes with their ability to serve their primary function. I’ve talked with family members who have knocked on every door and still don’t know where to get help for their loved ones. The Excellence in Mental Health Act would help right this wrong.”