National Council for Behavioral Health

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Charles Ingoglia, MSW

President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health

Finding Hope in the Noise

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Finding Hope in the Noise

No matter where you turn, it’s hard to escape political news these days – who’s up, who’s down … who’s in, who’s out. It can feel like an exciting roller coaster, a drawn-out soap opera or, depending on your mood, a bit of a never-ending nightmare.

In the midst of the noise, what should you pay attention to? What matters? What unites majorities of Americans?

Turns out, Americans are united in their commitment to reverse the national overdose and suicide crisis and expand mental health and addiction treatment.

According to new polling conducted by Morning Consult for the National Council as part of the Unite for Behavioral Health campaign, Republican and Democratic voters have seen little progress in the last four years. Only 20% of voters say access to mental health and addiction treatment has improved in their community over the past four years.

They know this is unacceptable and they want change. Members of Congress – and the presidential candidates – should take note: in the midst of so much political turmoil, there is a strong consensus for action. A couple highlights from the latest poll:

  • 77% of Republican voters and 90% of Democratic voters think it is important for the federal government to increase funding to expand access to mental health and addiction treatment.
  • 84% of Republican voters and 86% of Democratic voters are more likely to support a member of Congress who promises to do more to ensure veterans and active duty military can receive mental health and addiction treatment care tailored to their needs.
  • Nearly three in four voters (70%) would be more likely to support a member of Congress who promises to do more to expand 24/7 mobile crisis mental health services to respond to a mental health crisis instead of or along with law enforcement, including 61% of Republicans voters and 80% of Democratic voters.

In addition to voters, a broad cross-section of national organizations want to see meaningful change. The National Council recently released a letter, signed by 60 national organizations, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Psychological Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, urging Congress to extend and expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) demonstration before the May 22, 2020, expiration deadline. The letter warns that if funding expires, access to lifesaving opioid addiction services and other lifesaving treatments may be lost.

CCBHCs are leading a bold shift to increase access to high-quality mental health and addiction treatment that is making a difference in the lives of thousands of individuals and communities across the nation. They represent one of the most tangible ways for policymakers, right now, to act on the broad bipartisan consensus – dare I say insistence – for change.

Leading up to the November election, we will be exposed to lots of political messages that seek to draw distinctions between Republicans and Democrats.  We will be reminded that we are a nation divided when it comes to many issues. But, somehow, in the midst of all the noise, I am hopeful for the future.

I am hopeful that strong bipartisan consensus to expand mental health and addiction treatment will translate into near term policy changes and long-term impact.

As a nation, it is in our common best interest to further invest in mental health and addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services – to take care of each other. Only then can our nation be truly healthy and strong.  Let us hope that our recent polling results turn out to be a foreshadowing of good things to come.