Senators Kelly, Capito Introduce Bill to Improve Substance Abuse and Mental Health Response During Pandemic
Key priorities include a national strategy to prevent future mental health and substance abuse crises
Today United States Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced The Preventing Mental Health and Substance Use Crises During Emergencies Act, new bipartisan legislation that would ensure the federal government is better prepared to address the mental health and substance abuse impacts of the next public health emergency.
“Too many Arizonans are battling mental health and substance abuse issues due to economic uncertainty, social isolation, and other challenges posed by this pandemic. The Preventing Mental Health and Substance Use Crises During Emergencies Act will ensure we look at what is happening now and develop a national strategy to provide the resources and tools needed to help Arizonans during times of economic and health crises. I’m committed to ensuring Arizonans who are hurting do not face these challenges without the support they need,” said Senator Mark Kelly.
“It’s important for us to remember that while we are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, this is not the only health crisis we are battling. In West Virginia—and many communities across this nation—we continue to face the drug crisis on top of the additional challenges associated with this pandemic. Unfortunately, these challenges associated with COVID-19 have worsened the drug epidemic in West Virginia and across the nation,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito. “The Preventing Mental Health and Substance Use Crises During Emergencies Act convenes federal health experts to review why this is happening. We owe this to the far too many individuals and families who are hurting and looking for support.”
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study uncovered troubling mental distress and substance use trends as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Essential workers reported higher rates of substance use and suicidal thoughts due to the heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, health care workers facing resource and staffing shortages were at increased risk of post-traumatic stress and insomnia.
This bipartisan legislation would create a task force at the Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate the federal government’s response to the mental health and substance use crises during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and create a national strategy to prevent such crises in the future. It would also periodically reconvene the task force to keep the national strategy up to date with current technologies and best practices.
Read the full details of The Preventing Mental Health and Substance Use Crises During Emergencies Act HERE.