The bipartisan Senate deal aimed at preventing gun violence includes funding for a nationwide expansion of community mental health clinics, senators said Sunday.
The proposal marks a significant move on mental health in addition to the measures aimed directly at guns.
The measure from Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) would provide funding nationwide for community mental health clinics that provide 24/7 mental health crisis response, substance abuse treatment, and other services.
The clinics would be reimbursed through Medicaid, which the senators argue provides a more stable source of funding than one-time grants, which can run out.
The package would expand the mental health clinic program nationwide, up from 10 states currently fully participating.
“This bipartisan proposal builds on our work and will make sure health care above the neck is funded the same way as health care below the neck,” Stabenow said in a statement. “It’s time to get this across the finish line and expand these highly successful clinics to people in every corner of our country.”
There are also other mental health measures included in the bipartisan package released Sunday, though the details have not been provided.
The framework released by the bipartisan group of 20 senators calls for “major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs” and funding for “school-based mental health and supportive services.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the leaders of the overall effort, tweeted that there would be “billions in new funding for mental health and school safety, including money for the national build out of community mental health clinics,” though he did not provide an exact number.
“For too long, emergency rooms and law enforcement have served as the de facto mental health care delivery system in our country,” Blunt said in a statement, also stressing the need to avoid stigmatizing all mental health issues as associated with violence, as advocates note as well.
“It is important to remember that people who do have a mental health issue are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator,” Blunt said.