As Default Deadline Nears, Congress Continues Debate Debt Ceiling Plan

Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), with nine additional cosponsors, introduced a bill to amend the Public Service Health Act Wednesday night to authorize $20 million in grants for Mental Health First Aid trainings around the country. This program gives emergency services personnel, police officers, educators, primary care professionals, students and others the necessary skills to recognize mental health and substance use problems and connect people with help in their communities.

“The Senate’s strong bipartisan support of Mental Health First Aid is demonstrative that we are moving in the right direction—and with the $19 million for Mental Health First Aid in the Public Service Health Act, we can take even greater strides in supporting the one in five Americans who suffer with mental illnesses and addictions,” said Linda Rosenberg, National Council for Behavioral Health president and CEO. “The National Council is grateful to the Senate sponsors for their leadership and in supporting Mental Health First Aid’s value to the nation.”

Mental Health First Aid introduces people to risk factors and warning signs of mental health and substance use problems, and teaches them a five-step action plan to aid people in distress. Studies show that Mental Health First Aid gives people a tangible way to help others, increases their confidence in doing so and improves mental health literacy.

To date, nearly 350,000 people have been trained in Mental Health First Aid in America. Since 2014, Congress has funded an annual appropriation of $15 million for Mental Health First Aid trainings around the country. The National Council strongly supports the continuation of this funding in 2016, along with a new $4 million appropriation for Veterans’ Mental Health First Aid.

The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s community mental health and addictions treatment organizations. Together with 2,200 member organizations, it serves more than eight million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. The organization is committed to ensuring all Americans have access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery and full participation in community life. The National Council, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health pioneered Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. and has trained nearly 350,000 individuals to connect youth and adults in need to mental health and addictions care in their communities. To learn more about the National Council, visit


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