Monday, August 29, 2016

APA Applauds Mental Health Plan Unveiled Today by Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled a comprehensive mental health plan today that shows high commitment to initiatives for which APA has long advocated.

“The detailed mental health plan outlined by Hillary Clinton is sweeping in nature and, if enacted, would greatly improve the nation's mental health care system,” said APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D. “We welcome the attention Clinton is giving to mental health, an issue that affects Americans from all walks of life. Our mental health system needs to be discussed this election season. Americans deserve to know how the candidates plan to address this important issue.”

These are among the plan’s highlights:

  • A focus on early intervention efforts, such as the APA’s Foundation’s Typical or Troubled program, which trains educators to quickly identify children in need to behavioral health resources.
  • A pledge to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which requires insurers to offer coverage for psychiatric illnesses on par with other illnesses.
  • The creation of a national initiative headed by the U.S. Surgeon General for suicide prevention. According to statistics cited in Clinton’s agenda, the overall rate of suicide in the United States increased 24% between 1999 and 2014 and is now at its highest level in three decades.
  • An effort to increase the integration between medical and behavioral health care systems and expand community-based treatment, which includes reimbursement for collaborative care models and a nationwide strategy to address the shortage of mental health providers. The APA report “Economic Impact of Integrated Medical-Behavioral Healthcare” indicates that system integration could yield an annual savings of $26-48 billion to health care systems.
  • A White House Conference on Mental Health within her first year of office to focus greater attention on mental health issues, promote successful interventions, and identify barriers and solutions.
Other aspects of the plan—which cuts across the spectrum of mental health care from discovery to recovery—include boosting support for research into brain development and human behavior and expanding housing and employment opportunities for individuals with mental illness and other disabilities.

“We commend Secretary Clinton for showing that mental health is important to her by calling for a White House Conference on Mental Health within her first year of office,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “This plan—through parity, prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery—addresses the needs of every American who is affected directly or indirectly by mental illness.”

Clinton plans to hold a town hall meeting by telephone with stakeholders in the mental health area, including APA, later today.

Detailed coverage of Clinton’s plan will appear in a future issue of Psychiatric News.


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