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Obama Budget Proposal: $235 Million for Mental Health Initiatives

Update Date: Apr 10, 2013 10:49 PM EDT
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President Barack Obama is asking for $235 million as part of his new budget proposal to fund mental health initiatives, which will be focused on initiatives to help schools detect early warning signs and train thousands of new mental health professionals.

Of the funds, $130 million will be used to train teachers and others to identify signs of mental illness in students and provide them with access to treatment, according to ABC news.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a blog on her agency's website Tuesday that the funds include $205 million to help identify mental health problems, improve access to mental health services and support safer school environments.

The plan would affect at least 8,000 schools according to Sebelius. Another $30 million will go toward public health research on gun violence.  The fund also includes $55 million for a new program called Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education). That will give states and local school districts grants to administer such programs, while also collecting data on how well they work.

"We cannot ignore the fact that 60 percent of people with mental health conditions and nearly 90 percent of people with substance use disorders don't receive the care they need," Sebelius said in the post.

President Obama mentioned the need for expanding mental health services in a Monday night speech on gun violence, at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

"We have to tell Congress it's time to strengthen school safety and help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment they need before it's too late," he said.

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