Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Biden Urges Bipartisan Efforts on Mental Health in State of the Union Address

In his State of the Union address last night, President Joe Biden pointed to numerous health policies, including improving mental health and addressing the opioid epidemic, that represent opportunities for members of both parties to work together.

APA applauded the inclusion of mental health in Biden’s address in a news release. “While the nation faces the opioid epidemic, an ongoing crisis in youth mental health, and barriers to access, mental health is truly an issue where bipartisan progress can and must be made,” APA’s statement reads.

During his address, Biden spoke about his four-part Unity Agenda, which focuses on tackling the mental health crisis, especially among youth; addressing the epidemic of opioid and other drug overdoses; ending cancer; and supporting veterans.

Biden outlined specific actions his administration will take in his Unity Agenda, including the following:

Supporting the health care workforce: This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will launch a new campaign to provide mental health and resiliency resources for health care organizations on how to support their workforces.

Strengthening parity enforcement: The administration will propose new rules this spring to ensure insurers are not imposing inequitable barriers to care and that mental health professionals are being paid on par with other health professionals.

Investing in crisis services and 988: In the coming year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will improve the capacity of the recently launched 988 Lifeline by investing in the crisis care workforce, scaling mobile crisis services, and developing guidance on best practices in crisis response.

Expanding access to telehealth services: According to the Unity Agenda, HHS will triple resources dedicated to promoting interstate license reciprocity for delivering mental health services across state lines. The Department of Defense (DOD) will also expand the BRAVE program, a virtual behavioral health center providing services 24/7 to service members and their families located on federal installations across the globe.

Recruiting a more diverse mental health workforce: HHS will increase funding to expand the Minority Fellowship Program and recruit mental health professionals from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Fighting the opioid epidemic: The administration will expand access to proven treatments, including buprenorphine, for opioid use disorder; launch a national campaign to educate young people on the dangers of fentanyl and how naloxone saves lives; and ensure every jail and prison across the country can provide treatment for substance use disorders.

Supporting veterans and their families and reducing veteran suicide: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will create new resources to improve suicide risk identification and increase counseling on the safe storage of firearms and lethal medications.

For related information, see the APA news release “APA Statement Ahead of Tonight’s 2023 State of the Union.”

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