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DEMAND MORE FOR MENTAL HEALTH
RAISE YOUR VOICE

Statement by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Proposal

31 Mar 2022 — 4 min read

By AFSP

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Respect and Love Are Lifesaving

 Historic investment made for mental health at a moment of crisis in the United States

NEW YORK (March 31, 2022) – Following the announcement of President Biden’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2023, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention wants to thank the President for his ongoing commitment to give all Americans access to mental health resources through this statement:

“The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention applauds President Biden’s historic investment of $697 million in the new three-digit number, 988 and the Behavioral Health Services Program. This investment will ensure that every American who experiences a mental health crisis or suicidal ideation will have someone to call and somewhere to go. There is a great need to expand current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) infrastructure and to increase the efficiency of its services, as we know that current response rates are falling short of growing public demand for these life-saving resources.

This budget proposal funnels critical funds to improve and expand the 988 chat and text infrastructure, bolster broadband support and data collection, strengthen and establish mobile crisis outreach, facilitate connections between 988 and 911 services, better support  under-resourced call centers, staff for follow-up services, and increase training for call center staff. Ensuring that anyone in the country, regardless of physical location or economic background, has equitable access to support during a mental health crisis is integral to creating a successful and efficient comprehensive behavioral health crisis response system, and these investments in the NSPL will lay the foundation for such a system.

The President’s budget proposal also features $22 million in funding for the CDC’s Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program, an increase of $2 million from FY 2022. This important program utilizes data and evaluation to inform and support important suicide prevention efforts and programs across the county. The dedicated funds will also enable the CDC to continue its grant programs within communities whose populations are at higher risk for suicide across 11 states, so that the prevention programs can be scaled across the country. In addition to gaining vital insight into prevention models for at-risk populations, this funding for the Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program will help the CDC collect data in a timelier manner, ultimately ensuring that resources are properly distributed quickly and individuals at-risk can receive the care they need.

AFSP also applauds the inclusion of $1.7 billion in funding for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) program, an increase of $895 million from FY 2022. This vital program provides community support throughout the country to adults experiencing serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbances. We are grateful that the President’s budget increases the set-aside in the MHBG program for crisis care from five percent to 10%, which will assist state efforts to expand needed crisis systems.  We are also thankful for the inclusion of a new 10% set-aside to support programs to address early intervention and prevention of mental disorders for at-risk youth and adults. Finally, we support the President’s maintenance of an existing 10% set-aside for evidence-based programs that address the needs of individuals with early serious mental illness. Maintaining these funds helps to prevent deterioration of functioning in individuals experiencing a first episode of serious mental illness.

In total, President Biden’s budget includes $51.7 billion in new mandatory investments over the next 10 years to expand access to mental health services. These include a $7.5 billion investment in a new Mental Health Transformation Fund; $4.1 billion to permanently extend funding for Community Mental Health Centers; $1.2 billion in outlays to strengthen consumer protections and improve access to behavioral health services in the private insurance market; $3.5 billion to improve mental health coverage in Medicare, including by applying the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to Medicare; and $35.4 billion to improve mental health access in Medicaid.

These historic investments come at a moment of crisis in the United States. The pandemic has led to increased reports of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, particularly for youth and young adults, caregivers, frontline workers, LGBTQ individuals, and minoritized communities. President Biden’s budget is an essential step towards addressing this mental health crisis and will strengthen communities across the country.

The initiatives included in the President’s budget are in lockstep with AFSP’s Project 2025, a partnership-driven, nationwide initiative aimed at reducing the annual rate of suicide in the U.S. by 20% by 2025. While new CDC data show that the suicide rate decreased by 3% from 2019 to 2020, we do not yet have a full understanding of the longer-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and suicide and we need to continue to create programs, support research, and advance policies that contribute to a decrease in suicide.”

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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have had a loss. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with an Advocacy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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