Today, Senator Reverend Warnock is announcing a slate of five bills that will improve and expand access to mental health care for all Georgians and Americans; more access to mental health services is urgently needed and had been exacerbated by the toll that COVID-19 has taken on many people’s mental health

Senator Reverend Warnock recently visited Columbus’ Dorothy Height Elementary School to highlight one of these bills, the Advancing Student Services in Schools Today (ASSIST) Act, which would establish a new federal grant program to hire mental health providers in schools and provide a sustainable funding stream to retain them

Senator Reverend Warnock: “Mental health care is health care. We are never going to fully address the health care crisis we are facing unless we start placing the same value on mental health care that we do with physical health care”

This new legislative package is Senator Reverend Warnock’s latest effort to increase health care access for Georgia families; he previously introduced legislation to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin, lower the costs of prescription drugs, and to close the Medicaid coverage gap

ICYMI from the Columbus Ledger Enquirer: “’We’ve got to make sure we address this.’ Warnock pushes new mental health bills in Senate”

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced a legislative package of four bills and a resolution aimed at improving mental health care and access for Georgians and Americans. The new legislation combats the current mental health crisis by putting more funding toward hiring and maintaining mental health professionals in schools, and expanding access to peer support services—which will grow Georgia’s mental health care workforce and make mental health services more accessible. The new legislative package will also make mental health services immediately accessible after a major disaster, and increase government coordination for all mental health and substance use disorder activities.

“Mental health care is health care. We are never going to fully address the health care crisis we are facing unless we start placing the same value on mental health care that we do with physical health care,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “There is a serious mental health crisis impacting our state which is why the legislative package I’m introducing addresses the mental health crisis from multiple angles. It will expand access to peer support services, expedite the availability of mental health services after a major disaster—like the one we are currently experiencing—and, importantly, put more funding towards hiring and maintaining critical mental health professionals in schools.” 

COVID-19 has exacerbated and highlighted the growing mental health crisis and on the need to focus on people’s mental health and well-being. many Georgians and Americans are urgently in need of access to quality, evidence-based mental health services. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, forty-seven percent of people report the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health. Additionally, there has been an 891% increase in the number of calls to suicide prevention hotlines, and a significant increase in texts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) mental health hotline. And, the nation has seen a 34% increase in alcohol sales and an 11.4% increase in overdose fatalities, which according to experts is due in part to people experiencing increased mental health challenges.  Now more than ever, people need access to mental health and substance use disorder services.

“I’m determined to get something done to expand access to—and prioritize—mental health care for all Georgians,” Senator Reverend Warnock added following the introduction of the package. 

Senator Reverend Warnock’s mental health package includes five pieces of new legislation:

Senator Reverend Warnock has long been focused on strengthening health care access. Senator Warnock is the cosponsor of legislation to lower costs for prescription drugs, and earlier this month he introduced the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would cap out-of-pockets costs for insulin at $35 per month. Additionally, as the sponsor of the Medicaid Saves Lives Act, Senator Warnock has pushed in the Senate to create a federal fix to close the Medicaid coverage gap in Georgia and the other 11 non-expansion states, to increase access to free and affordable health for more than 4 million Americans including roughly 646,000 Georgians. 

Read the full bill texts of the legislative proposals HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. 


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