House passes package addressing mental health, 20 Republicans vote ‘no’

The House passed a bipartisan package on Wednesday that seeks to address mental health and substance abuse in the US

The legislation, titled the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act, passed in a 402-20 vote. Six Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.

All 20 “no” votes came from Republicans: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Tim Burchett (Tenn.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Bob Good (Va.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Michael Guest (Miss.), Clay Higgins (La.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Tom McClintock ( Calif.), Mary Miller (Ill.), Ralph Norman (SC), Chip Roy (Texas), Greg Steube (Fla.) and Van Taylor (Texas).

The package calls for creating a Behavioral Health Crisis Coordinating Office in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which would be tasked with bolstering access to crisis care. The office would receive $5 million per year starting in fiscal year 2023 until fiscal year 2027.

It also reauthorizes millions of dollars in grants for states, territories, tribes and tribal organizations to go towards community mental health services for adults who have serious mental illnesses, and children who live with serious emotional disturbances. Up to five percent of that funding can go towards early intervention activities.

Additionally, the legislation reauthorizes a number of programs that address mental health, and calls for promoting the availability of high-quality housing and services that are dedicated to recovery for people who have substance use disorders.

And it compels the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to direct or support research that looks into the effect smartphone and social media use have on the health and development of adolescents.

Mental health concerns have increased around the world. The prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25 percent globally in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a scientific brief released by the World Health Organization in March.

The Biden administration expressed support for the package on Tuesday. In a statement of administration policy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the legislation “will provide essential investments to build up our mental health and substance use care system.”

“The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 will help build a more robust behavioral health crisis system in the United States by investing in crisis response and addressing mental health and substance use disorder needs in communities,” the OMB added.

In a statement following passage of the package, Rep. Frank Pallone (DN.J.), a sponsor of the legislation, noted the elevated levels of anxiety and depression.

“This bill is needed today more than ever. Americans report rising anxiety and depression and increased use of opioids and other substances,” Pallone said.

“The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act will help restore hope for millions of Americans. The legislation strengthens and expands more than 30 critical programs that collectively support mental health care and substance use disorder prevention, care, treatment, and recovery support services in communities across the nation,” he added.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), another sponsor of the package, hailed its package.

“I am grateful for all my colleagues who led on many solutions in this bill, and for the strong bipartisan work that led to today’s passage in the People’s House,” she wrote in a statement.

“Our goal is to continue to build on this for stronger families, stronger communities, and a brighter future for all,” she added.

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