Newtown Action Alliance applauds the Senate Appropriations Committee for approving its Labor, Health and Human Services Bill, including the “Now is the Time” initiative.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2013
NEWTOWN, Conn. – The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill on Thursday that includes $10 million for gun violence prevention research, $18.5 million for a National Violent Death Reporting System expansion and $119 million in new funding to increase access to mental health services. This includes a total of $95 million for the administration’s Now is the Time initiative.
Newtown Action Alliance applauds the efforts of the Senate Appropriations Committee and calls on Congress to pass the bill.
The following is a section from the Summary: Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.:
Strengthening Our Mental Health System and Reducing Violence—Now Is the Time
The mass shootings last year at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, raised public awareness about the problems of violence and mental illness in our communities as perhaps never before.
There are approximately 30,000 firearm-related homicides and suicides in the United States each year, and almost one-quarter of 14- to 17-year-olds have witnessed a shooting in their lifetime. Research shows that exposure to community violence can impact children’s mental health and development and can substantially increase the likelihood that these children will later commit violent acts themselves. Unfortunately, less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Addressing these challenges will require complex, comprehensive solutions that are beyond the scope of any single school, community, state, or set of laws. But funding provided in this bill to prevent violence, increase access to mental health treatment, and improve school safety can play an important role.
Mental Health Services: The bill includes $119 million in new funding to increase access to mental health services. This includes a total of $95 million for the administration’s Now is the Time initiative: $15 million for Mental Health First Aid programs that teach individuals to identify and respond to the signs of mental illness; $40 million for Project AWARE State grants, which will focus on making schools safer and connecting young people with mental health services; and $40 million in new funding to address shortages in the behavioral health workforce. In addition, the bill includes a new 5 percent set-aside within the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant that will allocate $24 million to evidence-based programs addressing the needs of individuals with the early signs of serious mental illness.
Tracking Violent Deaths: The National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) is an 18-State surveillance system that pulls together information on violent deaths with the aim of developing effective interventions and preventive measures. The bill includes $18.5 million, an increase of $15 million, to expand NVDRS to additional States and communities.
Public Health Research: Behind motor vehicle injuries, firearm injuries are the second leading cause of injury and mortality in the United States. The bill includes $10 million to build the public health research base on how to reduce the threat of firearm-related violence.
Safe and Healthy Schools: Safe, positive school environments can help reduce unhealthy student behavior, increase academic achievement, and counter the effects that violence can have on students. The bill includes $195 million specifically to improve learning conditions in the Nation’s schools. Highlights include: $50 million for a new School Climate Transformation Grants program; $25 million to help school districts develop, implement, and improve their emergency management plans; $25 million for Project Prevent, which will help schools in troubled communities break the cycle of violence; and up to $8 million for Project SERV, which offers education-related services following a violent or traumatic event.
Newtown Action Alliance is a Newtown Connecticut-based grassroots 501(c)(4) advocacy organization working as a catalyst for smarter, safer gun laws and broader cultural change to reduce gun violence. Find out more at www.newtownaction.org