US senators introduce bill to improve substance abuse and mental health response during a pandemic

The bill is a bipartisan effort between Arizona and West Virginia
Opioid epidemic, drug abuse and overdose concept with scattered prescription opioids spilling...
Opioid epidemic, drug abuse and overdose concept with scattered prescription opioids spilling from orange bottle with copy space. Hydrocodone is the generic name for a range of opiate painkillers(Moussa81 | Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 7:47 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Since the beginning of COVID-19, many organizations have claimed the pandemic dramatically increased substance abuse and greatly affected mental health in individuals.

Today, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito introduced a new legislation aimed to ensure that the federal government is better suited to address these issues, if another public health crisis were to happen.

“Too many Arizonans are battling mental health and substance abuse issues due to economic uncertainty, social isolation, and other challenges posed by this pandemic,” said Kelly. “The Preventing Mental Health and Substance Use Crises During Emergencies Act will ensure we look at what is happening now and develop a national strategy to provide the resources and tools needed to help Arizonans during times of economic and health crises.”

If passed, the legislation would create a task force to evaluate the government’s response to mental health and substance abuse during and after the current pandemic, and use it as precedent for other national crisis in the future.

“It’s important for us to remember that while we are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, this is not the only health crisis we are battling. In West Virginia—and many communities across this nation—we continue to face the drug crisis on top of the additional challenges associated with this pandemic. Unfortunately, these challenges associated with COVID-19 have worsened the drug epidemic in West Virginia and across the nation,” said Senator Capito.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study uncovered troubling mental distress and substance use trends as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

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