Out of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), some key mental health provisions were funded. These funds are continuing to be drawn down by State and Federal Agencies to the Community Stakeholders. These funds from the law includes:
- $800 million for mental health-related programs managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), such as the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and Project Aware.
- $940 million for health resources and services administration spending, which includes funding for mental health workforce development, telehealth services, and rural health programs.
- $8.6 billion for Medicaid programs and services to provide mental health services to all people, regardless of their ability to pay. This includes expanding eligibility for Medicaid to cover more low-income adults, increasing reimbursement rates for mental health providers, and removing barriers to accessing mental health care.
- $2 billion for the Department of Education to expand mental health services in schools, such as hiring more school counselors, social workers, and other mental health professionals, and implementing evidence-based programs to prevent violence and promote positive school climates.
- Resources to states to implement crisis intervention and court programs, which could include mental health courts, drug courts, Veterans’ courts, and assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) programs. These programs are designed to divert people with mental illnesses from the criminal justice system and provide them with appropriate treatment and support.
The BSCA is intended to reduce gun violence by addressing some of the underlying causes and risk factors, such as mental illness, trauma, substance abuse, and lack of access to care. However, some advocates have expressed concern that the law may reinforce the stigma and misconception that most gun violence I perpetrated by people with mental illnesses, when in fact they are more likely to be victims than perpetrators. They also argue that more comprehensive gun control measures are needed to prevent mass shootings and other forms of firearm violence.
What does this mean for New York State?
New York State allocates funds for mental health services through various sources, such as federal grants, state budget, and Medicaid. According to the results from my web search, some of the recent funding initiatives for mental health services in New York State are:
- The Community Mental Health Services (CMHS) Block Grant, is a federal grant that provides funding to states to improve and expand community-based mental health services for adults with serious mental illness (SMI) and children with serious emotional disturbance (SED). The Office of Mental Health (OMH) in New York State annually receives a SAMHSA Community Mental Health Services Block Grant for mental health services2. The Block Grant is a source of flexible funding to address the needs of the New York State mental health population2. Recently, federal legislation provided supplemental funding to mental health services through time-limited expansions of the CMHS Block Grant and Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) share of funds for Medicaid programs1. The OMH will be working with community stakeholders to identify opportunities for these funds to best meet unmet prevention, treatment, and recovery needs for people with or at risk of serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance.
The FY 2024 Executive Budget, includes a comprehensive $1 billion multi-year plan to transform the continuum of mental health care and drastically reduce the number of individuals with unmet mental health needs throughout the State. The plan aims to correct a system that has suffered from chronic underinvestment by dramatically expanding access, reducing wait times, and ensuring appropriate levels of care are provided to those who struggle with mental health issues. The Budget will provide funding for new residential units, increase inpatient capacity, and dramatically expand outpatient services. In addition, there will be investments in peer-based outreach, an expansion of school-based mental health services, and the closing of gaps in insurance coverage for behavioral health services.
The FY 2023 Budget, which passed in April 2022 included a major infusion of funds for mental health programs for children and adolescents4. The Budget allocated $200 million over five years to create 500 new hospital beds for children and adolescents with psychiatric needs across the state. The Budget also increased funding for school-based mental health clinics by $15 million and created a new $10 million grant program to help schools hire more social workers, psychologists, and counselors.
Sources: WhiteHouse.gov, SAMSHA, HHS, NYS.gov