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Obama budget includes $235M for mental health, gun violence

Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said President Obama's new budget plan released Wednesday morning will devote $235 million toward mental health programs designed to pinpoint problems among youth and prevent gun violence.

Specifically, the blueprint would devote $205 million toward training officials at 8,000 schools and 5,000 mental health professionals to recognize early warning signs in young people and refer them to services, according to a blog post from Mrs. Sebelius on her agency's website.

Mr. Obama's plan also dedicates $30 million toward research on homicides and suicides as part of efforts to prevent gun violence — a policy the president has pressed in the wake of the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults.

"America has come a long way in talking about mental health, yet we are still a country that too often confines mental health and addiction to the far edges of our discourse," Mrs. Sebelius wrote. "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."

Mrs. Sebelius characterized the funding as an extension of measures in the Mr. Obama's health care law designed to tackle mental health issues. Health plans offered through the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces must include mental health and substance-abuse services as "Essential Health Benefits" categories, and insurers may not deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing behavioral health issue.

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