Hill Day at Home Next Week, New Initiatives Announced for Biden Mental Health Strategy

QUOTABLE

“The COVID-19 pandemic led to increased substance use and mental health challenges for people of all ages and all backgrounds, yet too many people are not getting the care they need. It is not enough to acknowledge the problem. We must break down these barriers. Recruiting more mental health and substance use professionals must be a top priority – and that workforce must reflect the rich diversity of our nation. We won’t be able to increase access to care or meet the historic demand for mental health and substance use care with an inadequate number of people employed to provide treatment.”

Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Main Stories:

  • Biden Administration Announces New Initiatives for Mental Health Strategy
  • Finance Committee Unveils Tele-Mental Health Draft Legislation
  • Overdose Death Data Indicates Highest on Record
  • Webinar on Understanding the Public Health Workforce’s COVID-19 Mental Health Challenges

Biden Administration Announces New Initiatives for Mental Health Strategy

This week, the Biden administration announced several new initiatives (analysis) aimed at advancing the White House’s Mental Health Strategy  released earlier this year (described here). The new initiatives expand upon the three pillars established in the strategy: build system capacity, increase access to mental health services, and foster healthy communities. The Administration creates new funding opportunities, pilot programs, and professional openings within several federal agencies to advance the goals of the Mental Health Strategy. New initiatives include a Mental Health Crisis Response Partnership Pilot Program and providing certain public-facing employees with access to Mental Health First Aid Training.

Finance Committee Unveils Tele-Mental Health Draft Legislation

Last week, members of the Senate Finance Committee released draft legislation on tele-mental health as a part of the Committee’s broader legislative effort to improve mental health care for Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries. The legislation (analysis) includes various policy proposals intended to increase access to tele-mental health care and remove burdens to, and promote the use of, telehealth. Notably, the legislation allows initiation of tele-mental health visits without prerequisite and sequential in-person visits, among other provisions.

Overdose Death Data Indicates Highest Year on Record

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data on overdose deaths finds 2021 as the highest year on record. According to the data, the 2021 calendar year saw 108,000 overdose deaths in the United States, 4,000 more individuals than the 2020 calendar year. Further, accessing care has been difficult for people seeking treatment. A recent survey, conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, found more than 4 in 10 U.S. adults who needed substance use and mental health care did not access treatment and 81 percent of individuals who received substance use care had difficulties obtaining access to this care.

Webinar on Understanding the Workforce’s COVID-19 Mental Health Challenges

Join the National Council for Mental Wellbeing and Region V Public Health Training Center on June 13 from 1-2:00PM Eastern for a webinar discussing the critical need to support the health and mental wellbeing of the public health workforce. This program will outline data on the mental wellbeing of, and challenges faced by, the public health workforce, as well as stories and recommendations from colleagues in the field. Additionally, participants will be able to identify and describe best practices and recommendations for a more sustainable public health infrastructure, including how to support public health leadership capacity and current public health professional training needs. Register for the webinar here.

ADVOCACY CORNER

Last chance to register for Hill Day! Hill Day is just five days away – join the National Council for Mental Wellbeing as we demonstrate the power of our unified voices at Hill Day at Home 2022! You will hear from policy experts, receive key legislative updates, and raise the volume on critical issues throughout our field – all for free and from the comfort of your office or home. Together, we will raise awareness on important legislation and urge lawmakers to invest in critical mental health and substance use care programs. Reserve your virtual seat today!

HAPPENING ON THE HILL

The Bipartisan Effort to Expand CCBHCs. In a recently released op-ed, Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Blunt (R-MO) strongly urge Congress to make the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) program permanent nationwide. The bipartisan effort to establish and expand the CCBHC program nationwide began in 2014 with the introduction of the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act. CCBHCs are changing people’s lives, according to the Senators, because anyone who needs care can get it and communities can save money to invest in other programs. Additionally, the burden on the police to respond to mental health crises is lessened and a reliance on grants to pay for care (which risks interruptions of care if money runs out) would not be a factor. Senators Stabenow and Blunt argue that the moment to treat mental health care the same as physical health care is here.

By Mollie Laird, Policy Associate