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Federal funding will help expand behavioral health services

Friday December 13, 2013
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The Department of Health and Human Services has announced plans to issue $50 million in funding to help community health centers establish or expand behavioral health services for people living with mental illness and drug and alcohol problems.

The centers will be able to use these new funds, made available through the Affordable Care Act, for efforts such as hiring new mental health and substance use disorder professionals, adding mental health and substance use disorder services and employing team-based models of care.

“Most behavioral health conditions are treatable, yet too many Americans are not able to get needed treatment,” Mary K. Wakefield, RN, PhD, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, said in a news release. “These new Affordable Care Act funds will expand the capacity of our network of community health centers to respond to the mental health needs in their communities.”

“These new funds will further the department’s work to develop integrated primary and behavioral healthcare services to better meet the needs of people with mental health and substance use conditions,” Pamela S. Hyde, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said in the news release.

It is estimated these awards will support behavioral health expansion in approximately 200 existing health centers nationwide.

Over the past year the Obama administration has taken steps to try to reduce the barriers that may prevent people from getting the help they need for behavioral health problems:

• The Affordable Care Act expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections for approximately 60 million Americans (http://news.nurse.com/article/20131111/NATIONAL06/111110018#.UqpPpeJsj9U).

• The administration has finalized rules under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Because of these parity protections, many insurance plans will include coverage for mental health and substance use conditions that is comparable to their medical and surgical coverage.

• The administration launched www.mentalhealth.gov a new website featuring easy-to-understand information about basic signs of mental health problems, how to talk about mental health and how to find help.


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