Editor's note: Mental Health Musings (MHM) will focus on community resources and stories throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congress passed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Wednesday. President Joe Biden will sign the American Rescue Plan on Friday, said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary.
The new bill contains millions in funding for mental health and substance use.
Throughout the yearlong pandemic, more Americans are struggling with their mental health, communities that once tempered the opioid epidemic saw a surge in deaths by overdose and states like New York withheld funding for nonprofits and providers because of budget deficits.
In Erie County, deaths by overdose increased by 49 percent last year compared to 2019, according to data from the Erie County Department of Health. The county launched free virtual training and expanded access to naloxone.
The new stimulus bill includes grant funds for a myriad of needs like distributing opioid overdose reversal medications like naloxone, connecting at-risk individuals with counseling, syringe services programs and other harm reduction services.
Additional grant funds include youth suicide prevention, funding the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, expansion of behavioral health clinics and telehealth services, funding pediatric mental health care access, and establishing or expanding evidence-based practices to promote positive mental health for health care workers.
Erie County continues to offer free virtual training for naloxone and overdose signs including three more this month.
For those in need of help, call the Erie County Addiction Hotline is (716) 831-7007 or Crisis Services Hotline at (716) 834-3131.
For more resources on coping with mental health, visit mhanational.org/covid19.