Senator Murray: “This pandemic has been incredibly hard on people here in Washington state, especially our kids. … I’m going to keep working across the aisle and pushing to make sure our communities get the support they deserve, so our families can get the mental health care they need.”
***PHOTOS OF THE EVENT HERE***
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, hosted a roundtable at Crisis Connections, a crisis hotline center in Seattle, where U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra heard directly from those on the frontlines of addressing the mental health crisis that’s affecting people across Washington state and the country. Senator Murray and the mental health professionals at the event underscored the urgent need for the federal government to provide more support to communities responding to the crisis—and Senator Murray highlighted how new funding she secured for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will help get the 988 shortcut to call or text the hotline up and running this summer.
Senator Murray was joined at the roundtable by U.S. Congresswoman Kim Schrier (WA-08); U.S. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07); U.S. Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09); Michelle McDaniel, Executive Director of Crisis Connections; Bipasha Mukherjee, CRIS Committee member; Kashi Arora, Seattle Children’s Hospital; Vera Abariy, Crisis Communications; and local leaders working to address the crisis.
During the roundtable, Senator Murray particularly underscored the gravity of the crisis kids are facing—which has been exacerbated by COVID-19—and highlighted the importance of call centers like Crisis Connections in providing support for those struggling with mental health challenges.
“This pandemic has been incredibly hard on people here in Washington state, especially our kids. I have heard from so many parents whose children are just not okay. COVID-19 disrupted school and their daily lives. It isolated them from friends. It put them and their families in danger,” said Senator Murray. “And in the fallout of all of this, we’re seeing rising numbers of people struggling with depression, substance use disorders, and other mental health challenges. The stress, anxiety, and trauma has been particularly hard for kids. I’ve heard from hospitals and mental health providers across our state who faced a sharp rise in youth mental health emergencies during this pandemic. Call centers like this one are a critical resource to respond to this crisis. You are a trusted place people can easily turn to for help when they are struggling.”
Senator Murray made clear she is committed to addressing the mental health crisis. She noted that she fought hard to secure much-needed boost to federal mental health and substance use disorder services in the most recent government funding bill—which included $77.6 million in additional funding for the national 988 crisis Lifeline—and is working to pass a bipartisan mental health and substance use disorder package to strengthen the federal response to the crisis.
“I’ve been pushing hard to get the new 988 hotline up and running, and I’m glad I was able to work across the aisle to secure a $77.6 million increase in the funding package we passed in March to help get the 988 hotline ready to go—because this will save lives,” said Senator Murray. “And I’m also working on bipartisan legislation to strengthen other tools and programs that help our communities identify folks in need, get them mental health care, and more.”
“I’m going to keep working across the aisle and pushing to make sure our communities get the support they deserve, so our families can get the mental health care they need,” said Senator Murray.
Senator Murray has consistently spoken out about the need to address the mental health and substance use disorder crises that are hurting people all across the country. She has championed efforts in Congress to provide more support for communities responding to the mental health crisis and fought to secure over $5 billion dollars for federal mental health and substance use disorder programs in the recent, bipartisan government funding bill. And as Chair of the Senate HELP Committee, she is working on a bipartisan package to strengthen mental health services for children and youth, continue improving suicide screening and prevention to save lives, make it easier for people to get mental health care, and much more. Senator Murray has held two hearings this year focused on addressing the crisis, and at a recent hearing on President Biden’s budget request pressed Secretary Becerra on the administration’s plans to tackle the crisis.