White House Touting Mental Health Funding After Sandy Hook School Shooting

The administration is shifting focus to mental health in its effort to curb shootings

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Vice President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday that the Obama administration is promising $100 million to improve mental health services as part of its response to the deadly school shooting in Connecticut almost one year ago, a White House official said.

The White House, with Biden at the forefront, has pledged to find ways to stop mass shootings, but it failed to push any new gun control legislation through Congress, even after the massacre of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., late last year. A Biden-led task force identified mental illness as another focus in the effort to stem shootings, and the White House has already set it as a priority, including by enforcing a 2008 law that requires insurers to treat mental health as a physical ailment.

Biden will unveil the new funding Tuesday afternoon at the White House “with families who lost loved ones during the shooting in Newtown,” the White House official said. The money comes form existing government funding: $50 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to expand behavioral health services for people with mental illness or addiction, and another $50 million from the Department of Agriculture to expand mental health services in rural areas.