Mental health, opioid epidemic get priority in Obama’s last budget

Mental health, opioid epidemic get priority in Obama’s last budget

Opioid abuse has become an epidemic in the United States, and President Barack Obama has time and again emphasized on the need to tackle the issue sternly. His recent statements on the drug menace reflected in his final annual budget unveiled on February 9. The federal government proposes to spend over $2 billion on tackling drug epidemic and ensuring good mental health.

Keeping up with the ambitious goal of the government to make provisions for various sections of education, health care, defense, climate change and many others, Obama unveiled a budget of $4.1 trillion for the next financial year, starting in October 2016.

The President’s FY 2017 budget retains the administration’s focus on the overall wellbeing of Americans, including mental health while addressing the opioid epidemic. The budget proposes $82.8 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to continue and expand necessary investments in mental health and addiction. It aims to augment the much needed mental health services, making available treatments for opioid abuse apart from research and development on curative procedures for addiction treatment.

Funds for mental health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness statistics show that approximately one in five adults in the country is suffering from mental illness in any given year. It coerced the government to propose a two-year initiative for expanding access to mental health services and propose $500 million in new mandatory funding.

As per the proposed budget, this step reinforces the intention of the government to expand access to early involvement procedures that deal with cases of serious mental illness. The move also supports adding specialists to the existing workforce so that they can adequately tackle the problem of scarce health care providers, prevention of suicides through proactive treatments and strengthen health services in the country.

Additionally, the budget makes supplementary provision of $ 530 million in FY 2017 to make sure that the health care system is available to everyone and absorb seriously mentally ill patients in its fold. This appropriation of funds comes in the wake of revelations made by the National Institute of Mental Health on various mental disorders which is costing the nation billions of dollars on treatment.

Funds to combat opioid abuse

Obama’s last budget recommends a $1 billion appropriation as a two-year compulsory initiative to extend access to prescription drug abuse treatment and heroin use to make sure that no American is bereft of the opioid services treatment they need. Approximately $500 million has been proposed to pursue and increase current efforts across HHS and Departments of Justice (DOJ) to supplement prescription drug overdose prevention strategies at the state level, making available medication-assisted treatment programs and provide better access to overdose reversal drug Naloxone.

The fund allocation to the states would depend on the gravity of the drug abuse problem and their response strategy to it, which would then enable them to extend their treatment capacity and increase the affordability of these services. “States can use these funds to expand treatment capacity and make services more affordable to those who cannot afford it,” the proposed budget says.

Focus on drug abuse

The frightening number of deaths caused by opioid overdose over the past two decades prompted President Obama to refer to the problem in his final State of the Union address on January 12, 2016. “I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like … helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse,” he said. His intention to address issues regarding drug related deaths came against the backdrop of the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. It revealed that against 47,000 drug-related deaths in 2014, two-thirds were opioid-related.

On October 21, 2015 also, Obama had issued a memorandum to federal departments and agencies suggesting that medical practitioners need to be properly trained in opioid prescriptions. He also stressed on the need to provide better treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin misuse apart from recognizing barriers to treatment for opioid addiction.

Extending a helping hand

If you or your loved one is looking for professional advice regarding serious mental disorders treatment or opioid-related abuse, you may call the 24/7 helpline of the Sovereign Mental Health Services. We are the pioneers in accredited therapeutic interventions and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. You can chat online with our experts or call at 866-954-0529 for further information.

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