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Coronavirus

$3B in Virus Relief to States for Mental Health, Substance Abuse

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials are releasing $3 billion to help states cope with rising substance abuse and mental health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The money approved by Congress in President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief bill will be equally divided between the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, roughly tripling the federal commitment to the programs, officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported 90,000 overdose deaths for the 12-month period ending last September, which represents 20,000 additional lives lost compared with the same period a year earlier.

Reported episodes of anxiety and depression were up sharply last year, and more people experienced suicidal thoughts. But there was a drop in the use of mental health and substance abuse treatment. Although people are using mental health services again, it hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The money will be distributed through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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