During stops in both states, the Secretary discussed youth mental health, the transition to 988 in July, and HHS’ Overdose Prevention Strategy with state and local leaders.
WASHINGTON – Last week, during the first week of Mental Health Awareness Month, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra traveled to the Pacific Northwest to discuss the Biden-Harris Administration’s effort to tackle the nation’s mental health crisis.
During his trip to Oregon and Washington, two of 10 states he has visited as part of HHS’ National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health, he talked with state and local leaders, and everyday Americans, about the importance of youth mental health, America’s transition to the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in July, and HHS’ Overdose Prevention Strategy.
HHS’ National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health was launched in March following President Biden’s State of the Union address. The national initiative is focused on raising awareness about the importance of mental health, one of the four Biden-Harris Administration Unity Agenda priorities.
“Over the past few years, we have seen large increases in the number of children diagnosed with mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression,” said Secretary Becerra. “At HHS, we are making historic investments in our mental health and substance use prevention services, awarding states and territories billions in new funding so that they can help more Americans in need. Our goal is to get all Americans — especially our youth — the mental health services they need and full parity between physical and mental health care.”
Secretary Becerra was joined by Ingrid Ulrey, HHS’ Regional Director for Region 10, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and 272 Federally Recognized Tribes.
“It was an honor to join Secretary Becerra in Oregon and Washington to hear directly from groups and organizations providing critical support to youth and adults in need,” said Region 10 Director Ulrey. “We will continue to stand with providers and community organizations here in Region 10, and align with state and local government officials as we work to provide individuals most in need with the mental health and treatment services they need.”
On Thursday, in Portland, Oregon, the Secretary visited Lines for Life, a regional non-profit crisis call center, to meet with staff and teen volunteers who provide 24-7 support for people struggling with substance use, thoughts of suicide, and other mental health challenges. As part of the visit, Secretary Becerra was joined by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Governor Kate Brown (D-OR), and state and community leaders for a roundtable discussion on how Oregon is working to successfully transition to the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in July. Watch the recording of the youth mental health roundtable in Portland.
On Friday, in Seattle, Washington, the Secretary visited Crisis Connections to discuss HHS’ work to support adults and teens in crisis. Crisis Connections, like Lines for Life in Portland, will be a key HHS partner in the success of the transition to the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. As part of the visit, Secretary Becerra was joined by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Congresswoman Kim Schrier (WA-8), Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9), and state and community leaders for a roundtable discussion on plans for a successful nationwide transition to 988 and HHS’ commitment to improving access to behavioral health across the nation. Watch the recording of the 988 Lifeline roundtable in Seattle.
Next, Secretary Becerra toured Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, WA to see their emergency department, which like emergency departments around the country, is on the frontlines of the overdose crisis. After the tour, Secretary Becerra was joined by Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-2) for a roundtable discussion where he reaffirmed HHS’ commitment to prevention, harm reduction, and other priorities included in HHS’ Overdose Prevention Strategy.
In March 2022:
- HHS announced, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly $35 million in funding opportunities to strengthen and expand community mental health services and suicide prevention programs for America’s children and young adults. The American Rescue Plan funded $9.2 million. This announcement is part of a new Administration-wide initiative to tackle the nation’s mental health crisis.
- HHS announced, through SAMHSA, two grant programs totaling $25.6 million that will expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder and prevent the misuse of prescription drugs. By reducing barriers to accessing the most effective, evidence-based treatments, this funding reflects the priorities of HHS’ Overdose Prevention Strategy, as well as its new initiative to strengthen the nation’s mental health and crisis care systems.
- HHS announced, through SAMHSA three funding opportunities totaling $43.7 million dollars to strengthen mental health and substance use services for individuals at risk for or living with HIV/AIDS. Funding will be awarded in the fall. The funding opportunities reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to providing accessible, evidence-based, culturally appropriate substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery services to all as part of HHS’s new Overdose Prevention Strategy.
In April 2022:
- HHS announced, through SAMHSA nearly $105 million to states and territories to strengthen crisis call center services in advance of the July transition to 988. Strengthening the nation’s crisis care infrastructure is a core priority of President Biden’s Mental Health Strategy, which he announced at the State of the Union as part of his national Unity Agenda. Improving 988 readiness and responsiveness is a critical step to realizing this objective.
The President’s FY 2023 budget makes additional record-breaking investments to further tackle mental health.
From Left to Right: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D-OR), Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5) at Lines for Life in Portland, Oregon.
After visiting with crisis hotline youth volunteers at Lines for Life in Portland, Oregon, Secretary Becerra wrote a message of hope and gratitude for the youth volunteers and the work they are providing to those in need.
From Left to Right: Congresswoman Kim Schrier (WA-8), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and Secretary Becerra at Crisis Connections in Seattle, Washington.
Secretary Becerra touring the Crisis Call Center at Crisis Connections in Seattle, Washington.
Secretary Becerra Touring the Providence Emergency Department in Everett, Washington.