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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Thanks Congress for Prioritizing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

10 Mar 2021 — 2 min read

BY AFSP

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We Can Talk About It

WASHINGTON (MARCH 10, 2021) – Today Congress passed H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which is now headed to President Biden’s desk for signature. Robert Gebbia, Chief Executive Officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, released this statement:

“As an organization dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, we would like to thank Congress for their critical work in addressing and providing increased funding for suicide prevention and behavioral health. Now more than ever, we are presented with the opportunity to take action. AFSP Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Christine Moutier noted in her recent JAMA Psychiatry article Suicide Prevention in the COVID-19 Era that Congress, policy makers, health care professionals, and organizational leaders can take steps to mitigate suicide risk during and after the pandemic.

AFSP applauds Congress for including funding in the American Rescue Plan Act that will directly address suicide prevention and mental health. The package includes funding for youth suicide prevention that will address the behavioral health needs of children. The package also includes funding for strategies to reduce suicide risk, burn out, and behavioral health conditions for health care professionals and health care students. It also includes funding for a public service campaign.

Critically important community-based mobile crisis intervention services will also be supported as part of the legislation. Providing Medicaid support for mobile crisis intervention teams for individuals experiencing a suicide or mental health crisis will encourage states to effectively respond to individuals in need and divert from unnecessary emergency medical or law enforcement responses. Mobile crisis outreach has been identified by SAMHSA as a core service and best practice of behavioral health crisis care, which will be crucial once the 988 national suicide crisis hotline is fully operational.

We applaud the leadership and commitment of our congressional champions, and especially thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for their perseverance in shepherding this vital legislation through the process. We also thank President Biden for his vision and dedication to prioritizing mental health and suicide prevention. AFSP’s over 31,000 volunteer Field Advocates have continued to contact their members of Congress to make their voices heard. They show us that when we raise our voices together, suicide prevention becomes the priority it deserves to be. I am grateful for their continued advocacy.”

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. 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.

Contact: Alexis O’Brien, 347-826-3577, aobrien@afsp.org

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