Kaine, colleagues introduce legislation to strengthen mental health response to COVID-19 pandemic

Senator Tim Kaine
Senator Tim Kaine(NBC29)
Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 12:15 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHSV) — Senator Tim Kaine and some of his colleagues have introduced the COVID-19 Mental Health Research Act, which will study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of Americans.

According to a press release from Senator Kaine’s office, the legislation follows recent reports that U.S. cases of depression and anxiety have significantly increased during the pandemic.

“From day one of this pandemic, I have been concerned about the impacts on Americans’ mental health, now and in the years to come,” said Sen. Kaine in the press release. “I have been especially concerned about our most vulnerable, and have been deeply troubled by the stories I continue to hear from frontline health care providers struggling with burnout, stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma. This legislation is a crucial first step in helping us understand COVID-19′s impact on providers’ mental health, and helping us identify where additional action may be needed.”

Per the press release, the COVID-19 Mental Health Research Act would authorize $100 million each year for five years to the National Institute of Mental Health to fund targeted research, and would also support:

  • Research on the mental health impact of the coronavirus pandemic  on health care providers;
  • Research on the long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic  stressors on mental health;
  • Research to strengthen the mental health response to the coronavirus pandemic , including adapting to or providing additional services for new or increasing mental health needs;
  • Research on the reach, efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of digital mental health interventions;
  • Research on the effectiveness of strategies for implementation and delivery of evidence-based mental health interventions and services for underserved populations;
  • Research on suicide prevention;
  • Research on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the mental health of specific populations - including children, women, older adults, individuals with disabilities, and members of racial and ethnic minority groups; and
  • Research on the impact of the coronavirus on people experiencing long-term symptoms or side effects after infection.

Joining Senator Kaine (D-VA) in introducing this legislation is Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Companion legislation is led in the House of Representatives by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and John Katko (R-NY).

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