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December 14, 2022

Senate Bill Aims to Boost Mental Health Care for Communities Facing Climate Disasters

Credit: The Well News

WASHINGTON — A bill introduced in the Senate on Wednesday would establish a first-of-its kind $30 million pilot grant program to provide funding to community-based mental wellness and resilience programs in communities bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.

Introduced by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., the funding provided by the Community Mental Wellness and Resilience Act would be administered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Across the country, environmental justice communities are living through the compounding crises of the coronavirus pandemic and continued climate disaster — raging wildfires, historic drought, devastating flooding,” Markey said in a press release announcing the filing of the legislation.

“People are losing their homes to climate disasters and their loved ones to worsening pandemics. It has never been more clear that our mental health is tied to the health of our planet,” he said.

“Communities are at the front lines of making sure their friends, family and neighbors can get the help they need when they need it, but they are also the most affected by health care and climate crises.

“As we work to secure climate and public health investments in Congress, we must also do our part to empower communities to protect their mental health at a time of worry, stress, and uncertainty. Families on the frontlines of these crises deserve community resources for all aspects of their well-being,” Markey added.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., are co-sponsors of the bill.

Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y, and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., have introduced companion legislation in the House with co-sponsors Kathy Castor, D-Fla., David Trone, D-Md., Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., Katie Porter, D-Calif., and Mary Pertola, D-Alaska.

The Community Mental Wellness and Resilience Act is endorsed by more than 115 organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and National Alliance on Mental Health, National Association of Social Workers, American Public Health Association, Mental Health America, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, Children’s Environmental Health Network, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, EcoAmerica, American Association on Health and Disability, The Kennedy Forum, Health Care Without Harm, PACEs Connection, Climate Psychiatry Alliance, Green Faith, and many others.