Herrera Beutler, others seek funds for ‘mental health crisis’

Letter asks OMB for help in fighting substance abuse, other issues

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer



Members of Congress have sent another letter to the Office of Management and Budget. This time, lawmakers — including Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R- Battle Ground — seek funding for mental health, suicide prevention and substance-use disorder programming.

Herrera Beutler was joined by 10 other representatives in signing the letter sent to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney last week.

“We must address the mental health crisis our nation is facing,” Herrera Beutler said in a Facebook post. “To do so, we need federal resources carefully targeted at efforts that will help thousands of people in Southwest Washington and across the country — families of loved ones facing mental health crisis, individuals addicted to opioids and fighting substance abuse disorders, and teens struggling with behavioral health issues and suicide.”

The letter states that the unmet need for mental health treatment in 2015 was more than 20 percent, and nearly 40 percent for those adults suffering from serious mental illness.

“We are committed to building better futures for individuals and families affected by mental illness and serious mental illness,” the letter reads. “Unfortunately, stories of families who have suffered, attempting to find care for a loved one are all too common. The opioid crisis has exacerbated and exhausted the attempt to find solutions on mental health and substance-use disorders.”

Nearly 18 percent of adults more than 18 years old suffer from mental illness, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2015. Further, more than 8 percent of adults have substance-use disorders.

“We strongly support investments in research, prevention, and treatment programs that will reach populations in need and increase coordination across the federal government,” the letter continues. “We ask that you prioritize robust funding for programs that focus on mental illness, substance use disorder and suicide prevention.”

Herrera Beutler also posted on Facebook: “We can’t delay finding prevention and treatment solutions for those in this vulnerable position.”