Help Protect People With Mental Illness During the COVID-19 Crisis
NAMI hopes you and your family are staying well, and we recognize that the spread of coronavirus impacts every person in this country.
But, we also know that people affected by mental health conditions face unique challenges during this time. We need your help to tell our nation’s leaders how they can support and protect people with mental illness.
As the Senate prepares the third in a series of COVID-19-related relief bills, please urge your Senators to ensure people affected by mental illness can maintain their treatment, get health and mental health coverage, access needed supports, and lift up the nonprofits they depend on, like NAMI.
We need you to ask your U.S. Senators to do 4 things:
1. Remove barriers to mental health treatment. People need ways to manage existing mental health conditions and maintain mental wellness while reducing their exposure to the coronavirus. To do this, Congress should:
- Eliminate all barriers to widely implementing telehealth in all public and private health plans and encourage all health plans to provide extended supplies and/or mail order refills of prescriptions. Both actions will help people with mental illness avoid risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- Approve funding for Emergency Response Grants at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to assist states in continuing to provide treatment for people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
2. Promote coverage for health and mental health care. People with mental health conditions are often uninsured or face barriers to getting needed treatment and supports. These challenges are even greater during a crisis. To address this, Congress should:
- Immediately launch a special enrollment period for commercial health insurance in the Marketplace (HealthCare.gov) to make sure people have access to affordable, quality health care coverage.
- Require the use of “presumptive eligibility,” which allows certain providers like hospitals and clinics to enroll people in Medicaid that they believe meet eligibility criteria.
- Ensure free COVID-19 testing and treatment for everyone, including people who are uninsured.
3. Ensure safe housing for people with severe mental illness. Many people with severe mental illness experience homelessness or housing insecurity and are uniquely vulnerable to being exposed to the virus and outbreaks in shelters or encampments. With the loss of steady income, many more individuals are also at risk of losing housing. Congress must act by:
- Providing $5 billion to serve people who are homeless and help them stay safe and healthy during this emergency.
- Approving an additional $5 billion to provide rapid rehousing for people who are at immediate risk of becoming homeless and funding for rental assistance to help low-income renters weather this crisis.
- Putting a temporary stop on evictions to ensure that renters and homeowners maintain stable housing during this crisis.
4. Support nonprofits’ capacity to serve. The economic impact of this crisis will also touch charitable organizations like NAMI organizations and our partners. Nonprofits need support to meet greater demand and fill important gaps during this time. To assist, Congress should:
- Provide targeted assistance to 501(c)3 organizations to help them keep their doors open during this crisis and offer paid leave to their employees.
Your Senators need to hear from you TODAY. Please contact them now to ensure people with mental illness are helped in their response to COVID-19.
Together, we can ensure that no one in our community is left behind.
National Director of Advocacy & Public Policy