American Psychiatric Association(APA) Calls for Emergency Funding as COVID-19 Overwhelms Behavioral Health System, April 22 2020.

APA Calls for Emergency Funding as COVID-19 Overwhelms Behavioral Health System

Psychiatric News, April 22, 2020.

(emphasis added-Murthy)

There is growing understanding of the behavioral impact of the COVID 19 and associated actions like social distancing/ lockdown etc.
Here is an appeal by a group of mental health organisations from U.S.A.

News release from APA:

The behavioral health system is “collapsing,” despite an increase in anxiety, fear, grief, and substance use related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement signed by APA and 11 other organizations and sent to Congressional leadership yesterday as Congress prepares to approve another round of COVID-related federal funding.

The funding under consideration is primarily focused on shoring up existing programs—especially the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of money last week. Congressional Democrats are hoping to add funding for hospitals, state governments, and a nationwide testing program for COVID-19. The bill is expected to be approved by Congress this week.

APA and the other groups are hoping to alert Congress to the dire need for funding for mental and substance use treatment programs. “Before the pandemic broke out, there was bipartisan consensus that addressing mental health, substance use, and suicide were urgent national priorities. Congress took preliminary steps to increase funding for mental health and addiction services, but these investments may soon be lost because of the financial strain COVID-19 has taken on our mental health and addiction system,” the coalition stated.

Citing a survey conducted by the National Council for Behavioral Health, the coalition noted that many behavioral health organizations “don’t have the funds they need to ride out this crisis.”
The survey of 880 behavioral health organizations across the country revealed that 62% believe they can survive financially for only three months or less under current conditions. “Organizations have cancelled, rescheduled, or turned away 31% of patients, and 92% have reduced their operations,” they wrote.

The statement noted that the CARES Act included funding to health care professionals, with a priority on paying hospitals through Medicare. However, community behavioral health organizations rely primarily on Medicaid and have largely been left out of critical emergency funding.

“We urge Congress to dedicate significant resources specifically to supporting community behavioral health programs during the crisis,” the coalition stated.
The coalition also called for $1 billion each to the SAMHSA Community Mental Health Services block grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant programs.

“Our nation’s behavioral health system is crumbling because of COVID-19 at a time when we should be strengthening it to help those in need when the pandemic ends,” said APA President Bruce Schwartz, M.D.

APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., agreed. “It is hoped that Congress and the Trump administration will support what is expected to be an increased need for services for those with mental and substance use disorders as well as the general population in the wake of COVID-19.”
________________________________________

STATEMENT:

The COVID-19 Mental Health and Addiction Crisis

COVID -19 has increased anxiety, fear, isolation, and grief, leading to declining mental health and an increase in substance use in our communities that will only continue to get worse.

The behavioral health system is collapsing. In a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45% of adults say their mental health has been affected by the pandemic and 19% say it has had a major impact. And for others, the fear, anxiety and instability brought on by the COVID-19 emergency is making existing mental health and substance use conditions worse and triggering relapse.

Before the pandemic broke out, there was bipartisan consensus that addressing mental health, substance use, and suicide were urgent national priorities. Congress took preliminary steps to increase funding for mental health and addiction services, but these investments may soon be lost because of the financial strain COVID-19 has taken on our mental health and addiction system.

Behavioral health organizations don’t have the funds they need to ride out this crisis. According to a survey of 880 behavioral health organizations across the country, 62% believe they can only survive financially for three months or less under current conditions. Organizations have cancelled, rescheduled, or turned away 31% of patients and 92% have reduced their operations.(1)While telehealth is increasing, it simply isn’t replacing all the in-person revenue clinics received.

Don’t leave mental health and addictions behind. The CARES Act provider fund relied on making payments directly to providers, and HHS has prioritized paying hospitals through Medicare. However, behavioral health organizations rely primarily on Medicaid, not Medicare, and have been left out of critical emergency funding. We urge Congress to dedicate significant resources specifically to supporting community behavioral health programs during the crisis.

In the next coronavirus relief package, Congress should:

• Direct HHS to set aside $38.5 billion of any provider fund for essential behavioral health providers and enable state Medicaid programs to make payments to financially-fragile behavioral health programs

• Provide an additional 5.8 percentage point FMAP increase (adding to the previous 6.2 percentage point increase)

(1) COVID-19 Economic Impact on Behavioral Health Organizations, (April 15, 2020). Survey conducted jointly by ndp | analytics and the National Council for Behavioral Health from April 6 to April 12, 2020. Results obtained pre-publication from the National Council for Behavioral Health.

Average % of patients that behavioral health organizations had to cancel, reschedule, or turn away (by size or organization)
Number of months behavioral health organizations believe they could survive financially under current conditions

We also urge a plus-up of $1 billion each to the SAMHSA Community Mental Health Services block grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant programs to support important nonMedicaid mental health and addiction services and supports.

Our nation’s behavioral health system is crumbling because of COVID-19 at a point when we should be strengthening it to help those in need when the pandemic ends and our nation begins healing from the fear, anxiety, isolation and grief that has affected us all.

Sincerely,

American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Alliance on Mental Illness
One Mind
Meadows Mental Health Policy
Institute Mental Health America
National Council for Behavioral Health
Peg’s Foundation
The Kennedy Forum
Treatment Advocacy Center
Well Being Trust

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