One Year After Newtown Shooting, Vice President Biden Announces $100 Million Increase In Mental Health Funding

Biden, surrounded by Newtown families at the White House today, announced a $100 million commitment by the Obama administration to increase access to mental health services.

AP / Carolyn Kaster

Joined by families of some of those lost last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Vice President Joe Biden announced today a $100 million boost in funding for mental health services.

“The fact that less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need is unacceptable. 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,” said Vice President Biden.

Under the expanded funding, the Department of Health and Human Services will contribute $50 million to expand behavioral health services for people living with mental illness or addiction. The Department of Agriculture will use the other $50 million to finance the construction, expansion, or improvement of mental health facilities in rural areas over the next three years.

Following the vice president’s announcement, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a statement thanking White House for its increased support:

I commend President Obama and VP Biden on making mental health a priority as states move to implement the Affordable Care Act. Choosing to invest in our nation’s mental health infrastructure is one of the wisest things we can do in our efforts to prevent acts of violence.

As we approach the one year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many questions remain for which we may never know the answers. But as we increase our focus on mental health, it’s important that we further discussions within our communities and schools to decrease the stigma and discrimination faced by individuals diagnosed with mental illness.

The announcement comes just days before the one year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that took lives of 20 students and six school officials. The gunman, Adam Lanza, had a long history of mental health and behavioral problems.

The White House announced Tuesday that the Obamas, who are traveling in South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s memorial, will observe a moment on silence on the first anniversary of the shooting this Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 to honor the Sandy Hook victims.

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