U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, U.S. Rep. Max Rose Introduce Legislation to Deliver More Effective Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services during Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/29/20]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representative Max Rose (D-NY 11) introduced companion bills in the Senate and House to make sure public organizations and nonprofits can more effectively and efficiently provide mental health and substance use disorder services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and future emergencies.

Currently, there is a backlog in mental health and substance use disorder assistance due to COVID-19. Additionally, many federal agencies are being forced to tap into resources that aren’t usually used for this purpose. Sen. Smith and Rep. Rose’s Emergency Support for Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services Act would help people in Minnesota and across the country by establishing a technical assistance center and resources to support nonprofits that want to expand access to these services during the pandemic.

“Supporting mental health and substance use disorder services is essential—mental health is health, and we need to make sure more people get the care they need during the pandemic,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee. “Our bill puts resources right where they’re needed so organizations and nonprofits have the ability to get care to those who need it quickly and effectively. I’m glad to be working with Rep. Max Rose on this, and we’ll push to get it included in the next COVID-19 relief package.”

“This pandemic has wreaked untold damage across our country, taking over 125,000 American lives, and causing incredible economic pain, but we cannot lose sight of the drastic impacts this has had on mental health and those suffering from addiction,” Congressman Max Rose said. “In so many instances, support systems are being limited and help has been harder to find. I’m proud to work with Sen. Smith to dedicate resources towards confronting this reality and getting people the care they need now more than ever.”

The Emergency Support for Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services Act would support:

·       Training and identifying signs of trauma, stress, and mental health needs;

·       Providing resources for individuals experiencing mental health needs during an emergency period and for addressing substance use disorders during an emergency period;

·       Accessing language services, including translation and interpretation; and

·       Sharing best practices for organizations seeking to provide mental health or substance use disorder services.