December 10th, 2013 | City

Biden announces investment in mental health

Nearly a year after the shooting rampage at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, Vice President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that $100 million dollars in federal funds will be directed towards increasing access to mental health services.

The funds, which will come from the Affordable Care Act and the Department of Agriculture, will both improve mental health facilities and increase access to mental health services, according to a White House statement. On Tuesday, Biden met with the families of the Sandy Hook victims and mental health advocates to make the announcement.

“The fact that less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need is unacceptable,” Biden said. “The President and I have made it a priority to do everything we can to make it easier to access mental health services, and today’s announcements by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture build on that commitment.”

Improving care for the mentally ill is just one of the issues that gained urgency after the Newtown shooting on Dec. 12, 2012. In response to the shooting, the Obama administration also launched an unsuccessful campaign for stronger gun control measures. Despite the administration’s failure to change the nation’s gun policies, Connecticut officials recognized Biden’s announcement as an important step towards the nation’s progress in reducing gun violence.

“Shamefully, Congress has failed to enact meaningful legislation to address the scourge of gun violence in America,” an official statement from Connecticut officials – Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty. “We applaud the President and Vice President’s commitment to addressing mental health issues—it’s a critical component of our broader efforts to reduce gun violence in our state and country.”

Meanwhile, President Obama has also proposed an additional $130 million for efforts such as helping to ensure teachers and other adults who work with youth can recognize signs of mental illness and connect children and their families to treatment.