ACL: New Funding and Resources to Address Addiction, Mental Health Crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has seen a significant increase in anxiety, depression, and other behavioral health conditions. Substance misuse has also increased significantly.

To help communities grappling with these issues, last week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced $3 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan through the Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG) and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG). This represents the largest aggregate funding to date for these programs. The MHBG funding can be used to provide comprehensive community mental health services and address needs and gaps in existing treatment services for those with severe mental health conditions, including older adults and individuals with disabilities. The SABG funding will provide additional resources for planning, implementing, and evaluating activities to prevent, treat and help more people, including individuals with disabilities and older adults recover from substance use disorder. The funding also will support existing prevention, treatment and recovery infrastructure, promote support for providers and address unique local needs to deliver substance use disorder services.

HHS also announced it will convene a Behavioral Health Coordinating Council to facilitate collaborative, innovative, transparent, equitable, and action-oriented approaches to addressing HHS’ behavioral health agenda. ACL looks look forward to collaborating across HHS on programs and policies impacting the behavioral health of older adults and individuals with disabilities.

We know that those most affected by COVID-19 – such as older adults and individuals with disabilities – may be experiencing social isolation, depression, and anxiety due to the pandemic, and ACL also is working to address those needs through our programs.  For example, earlier this year, ACL funded the Jewish Federations of North America’s Center on Aging and Trauma’s expansion of person-centered, trauma-informed services for Holocaust survivors, older adults with a history of trauma, and/or their family caregivers. We also funded the launch of an online Knowledge Hub of evidence-informed, actionable tips, tools, and other resources to help people with disabilities and their providers work together to manage chronic pain. The Knowledge Hub also includes resources to help people with disabilities and their providers identify opioid use disorder and to access and coordinate treatment that considers the needs of a person with a disability.