Senator Cornyn

Cornyn: Cannot Ignore the Mental Health Impact of Coronavirus

May 5, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) discussed the need to address the pandemic’s impact on mental health. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s floor remarks are below, and video can be found here.

“As we continue to discuss what future coronavirus legislation could look like, we cannot ignore the mental health impact. Nationwide, we rely on the community mental health centers and community behavioral health organizations to support those battling mental health and substance abuse disorders. But as need for these services has increased, resources has actually decreased.”

“More than 90% of the community behavioral health organizations nationwide have been forced to reduce their operations – reduce their operations at a time of increased need and demand. And more than 60% of behavioral health organizations project they can’t survive financially for more than three months under the current COVID-19 conditions.”

“Congress tried to do something to help. We provided $175 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to support health care providers on the front lines of this crisis. As this funding is being distributed, mental health providers cannot be forgotten.”

“Along with 24 of our colleagues, Senator Stabenow and I have sent a letter to Secretary Azar and [CMS] Administrator Verma encouraging them to quickly allocate this funding and ensure that these mental health organizations are included. Not only do they provide vital care and support for individuals struggling with mental health issues, they also are key to fighting addiction and substance abuse.” 

“The new stress brought on by this virus are compounded by reduced capacity for treatment. In-person support meetings are canceled. Treatment clinics and counselors are curtailing appointments, and the barriers to overcoming addiction loom even larger.” 

“Now, the CARES Act, I’m glad to say, does expand access to telehealth, and I think many Americans are experiencing the benefits of telehealth.”

“We have a whole catalog of problems associated with this virus and the virus itself and the risk of infection being just one, and we need to look at this holistically. As our discussions continue this week on how to support the American people during this unprecedented time, resources for mental health and substance abuse treatment providers cannot fall by the wayside.”