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November 17, 2022

Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force Sends Letter to House and Senate Leadership Urging Passage of the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act in End-of-Year Package

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 17, 2022

Contact: 

Sasha Galbreath, Sasha.Galbreath@mail.house.gov (Trone)

Hannah Pope, Hannah.Pope@mail.house.gov (Fitzpatrick)

Jen Fox, Jen.Fox@mail.house.gov (Kuster)

Casey Bowman, Casey.Bowman@mail.house.gov (Herrera Beutler)

Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force Sends Letter to House and Senate Leadership Urging Passage of the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act in End-of-Year Package

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Today, the Co-Chairs of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, Reps. David Trone (D-MD), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Annie Kuster (D-NH), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), alongside other members of the Task Force, sent a letter urging House and Senate leadership to prioritize consideration of the House-passed Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act. This legislation will dedicate billions of dollars to combat our nation’s worsening addiction and mental health crises, providing life-saving resources to communities across the country.

The package includes over 30 bills to address the intertwined epidemics, including delivering billions of dollars in grants for states fighting on the front lines, bolstering programs and services in areas most impacted, and improving interagency coordination in this fight.

Since 1999, over one million Americans have died from drug overdoses. Just last year, our country lost a record-high 108,000 Americans to drug overdoses, over 70% of which involved the highly potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.

In 2021, more than 47,000 Americans died by suicide, and 32% of adults surveyed in January 2022 reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. One in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness, and nearly half of Americans live in federally designated mental health professional shortage areas. 

In the letter, the members highlighted the urgent need to pass this groundbreaking legislation and develop a coordinated, all-of-government response to turn the tide on these crises.

“We have reached an inflection point. We cannot continue on our current path, leaving our constituents to struggle with unmet needs for mental health and substance use support,” the lawmakers said. “The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act is a sweeping, strongly bipartisan bill that will help turn the tide of the behavioral health crisis.”

Trone, Kuster, Fitzpatrick, and Beutler were joined by 51 other Members of Congress: Cynthia Axne (D-IA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Don Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Troy Carter (D-LA), Ed Case (D-HI), Kathy Castor (D-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Josh Gottenheimer (D-NJ), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Susie Lee (D-NV), Mike Levin (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Kwesi Mfume (D-MD), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Marie Newman (D-IL), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Mary Peltola (D-AK), Katie Porter (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Deborah Ross (D-NC), C. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Gregorio Sablan (D-MP), Maria Salazar (R-FL), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Victoria Spartz (R-IN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Susan Wild (D-PA).

The full letter is available here and below.

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Majority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader McConnell,

Nine in ten Americans think there is a mental health crisis in this country. Last year, we lost almost 300 Americans a day to overdose, and in 2020, we lost 126 Americans a day to suicide. Young people are particularly impacted – in a recent survey, a third of adults under 30 described their mental health as only fair or poor, and eight in ten parents are concerned that depression, alcohol or drugs, or anxiety are negatively impacting teenagers. Those who need help face challenges in finding it; about half of adults under 30 reported thinking they might need mental health services or medication in the past year but did not get them, primarily due to cost or other challenges in finding and accessing services. 

As members of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, a coalition of 140 Members of the House of Representatives, we urge you to prioritize H.R.7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act, for inclusion in any end-of-year package. This incredibly comprehensive bill passed in the House almost unanimously in June. The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act addresses the full spectrum of behavioral health through improvements for community and school-based mental health services, suicide prevention and crisis care, substance use disorder prevention and treatment, and recovery housing. It addresses access issues with programs to expand and train the behavioral health workforce, promote treatment parity, and increase peer support. The bill also includes programs targeted toward underserved and at-risk populations, including children, pregnant and postpartum women, servicemembers, American Indian and Alaska Natives, unhoused people, and those who are incarcerated. 

We have reached an inflection point. We cannot continue on our current path, leaving our constituents to struggle with unmet needs for mental health and substance use support. The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act is a sweeping, strongly bipartisan bill that will help turn the tide of the behavioral health crisis. Thank you for your leadership in responding to this issue. We look forward to working with you to transform prevention and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders.

Sincerely,

The Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force merged Trone’s Freshmen Working Group on Addiction and the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, which was co-chaired by Reps. Kuster and Fitzpatrick in the 116th Congress and founded by Rep. Kuster in 2015.

The purpose of the new Task Force is to combine efforts to make the most progress possible on addiction and mental health in the 117th Congress. The forthcoming 2022 Legislative Agenda will address these dual public health crises that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated. The group hosts regular meetings with stakeholders, attends site visits, and creates policies that will save lives.

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