U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today announced that the final version of the American Rescue Plan approved by the Senate over the weekend includes robust funding for mental and behavioral health care. 

Whitehouse advocated for the funding to address the growing overdose crisis in Rhode Island.

“Pandemic-related isolation and stress have presented new challenges for many Rhode Islanders, especially those walking the long, noble road of recovery,” said Whitehouse in a statement.  “I was pleased to help deliver additional resources to bolster mental health and substance use treatment in Rhode Island as demand for those services remains high.”

The American Rescue Plan includes:

·       $1.5 billion for SAMHSA Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grants.  Whitehouse’s Office estimates that Rhode Island will receive $3-4 million based on the SAPT funding formula. This funding is allocated to the state to distribute to local governments and community organizations to carry out treatment and prevention services.

·       $80 million for a new grant program for community-based and behavioral health organizations across the country.  Rhode Island organizations will be able to apply directly for the grants.  The funding can be used to increase access to medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder, provide workforce training for behavioral health staff, and administer treatment services via telehealth.  

·       $420 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.  Rhode Island providers currently participating in this program will be able to apply for another round of funding through this authorization.  Those organizations include Thrive Behavioral Health, Newport Mental Health, Horizon Healthcare Partner Community Care Alliance, and their partners.

Whitehouse’s office says for years the Senator has helped lead the charge in Congress to fight the national opioid addiction crisis.  Whitehouse co-authored the landmark bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, sweeping legislation to guide the federal response to the opioid epidemic that was signed into law in 2016.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the opioid and substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery landscape.  The nature of the pandemic has increased social isolation and stress while decreasing access to treatment and harm reduction resources, with significant repercussions for individuals dealing with addiction.  According to advocates, there were more than 400 overdose deaths in Rhode Island in 2020—a grim new record.

The American Rescue Plan is expected to be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives this week before heading to President Biden’s desk.

The Latest From WUN

Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).