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Va. gets $69 million for mental-health, drug-overdose efforts from Rescue Plan
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Va. gets $69 million for mental-health, drug-overdose efforts from Rescue Plan

Spanberger in Culpeper

In Culpeper on May 7, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Culpeper Economic Development Manager Paige Read (right) discuss government efforts to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia will get nearly $70 million from the American Rescue Plan to bolster its mental-health and substance-abuse programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger announced Tuesday.

These major awards from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) were made possible by the American Rescue Plan which President Joe Biden signed into law in March.

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services will receive the federal funds, divided into two parts, the 7th District congresswoman’s office said.

A Community Mental Health Services Block Grant of $35.78 million will strengthen mental health services across Virginia. The money can be used to bridge gaps in treatment services for Virginians with serious mental illness.

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A Substance Abuse Block Grant of $33.98 million will help Virginia plan and implement activities to prevent substance-abuse disorder and help more Virginians recover from it. The money will enable the commonwealth to invest in prevention, treatment and recovery infrastructure, and support care providers as they address local residents’ needs, Spanberger’s office said.

“To address the massive mental health and substance-abuse crisis Virginia faces, we need to increase investment in programs with a demonstrated track record of success,” Spanberger said in a statement. “Additionally, we need to provide as much flexibility as possible to those who are leading the charge against addiction and drug overdoses on the ground.”

The Democrat said she is proud to see dollars from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan go directly to Virginia communities that need it.

“I am hopeful that greater attention to this issue and greater federal support will lead to greater chances of recovery for those in the grips of drug abuse and addiction,” Spanberger said. “I also pray that this federal funding will prevent future tragedies and prevent more families from losing a loved one to this other epidemic—an epidemic that has been worsened by the COVID-19 crisis.”

The money to Virginia was awarded through SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA has recently sped up federal funding to help communities tackle their mental-health and substance-abuse needs during the coronavirus pandemic, the congresswoman’s office said.

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Clint Schemmer, a journalist since 1980, has worked at papers in California, North Carolina and Virginia. He’s been a bureau chief, editorial-page editor, copy desk chief and local news editor. Now a staff writer at the Culpeper Star-Exponent.

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