NJAMHAA Applauds Congress for Passing a Budget with Funding for Behavioral Health Services

Statement from Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO

March 23, 2018 -

Thanks to the relentless advocacy by the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA) and other partners and stakeholders nationwide, the federal omnibus spending bill includes billions in new behavioral health funding. The new allocations represent a victory for people who struggle with mental health and substance use challenges, and the provider organizations that treat them. We are gratified that lawmakers recognized the crucial importance of increased investment in life-saving behavioral health programs.

The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill provides $140 billion in new funding, which represents the most substantial increase in years. These increases are provided in numerous areas important to providers and recipients of mental health and substance use services.

Most notable among these provisions for substance use services are a $3 billion increase to address the addiction crisis, making a total investment of $7.4 billion for treatment, recovery and prevention services, as well as research and criminal justice-related initiatives. This funding includes $500 million specifically to combat the opioid crisis through research on opioid addiction and development of alternative pain medications and addiction treatments.

Some of the most noteworthy provisions for mental health services are a $541.5 million increase for the Mental Health Block Grant, which funds a range of services for adults; an additional $5.7 million for children's services; and $30 million (more than twice the amount in the previous year's budget) for mental health and veterans' courts, as well as substance use courts.

As integrated services for mental illnesses, substance use disorders and physical health conditions are essential, NJAMHAA appreciates the additional $100 million, available until September 30, 2020, for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, which have been quickly proven to be effective in improving access to a range of services to meet individuals' diverse healthcare needs. Similarly, the increased funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development is welcome, as stable, safe and affordable housing is a critical factor in enabling individuals to live healthy, productive and rewarding lives.

We are pleased to hear that President Trump signed this spending bill and we look forward to the progress in research, treatment and prevention that will be made possible by this much-needed funding.

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