June 2, 2022
Yesterday, on the final day of Mental Health Awareness Month, the White House released a fact sheet highlighting the Biden-Harris Administration's strategy to address the national mental health crisis. The statement noted that the U.S. is facing an unprecedented mental health crisis, with two in five American adults reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression, and more than half of parents expressing concern over their children's mental well-being.
President Joe Biden's comprehensive national strategy has already invested nearly $4 billion of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to expand access to mental health and substance use services. The President's FY2023 budget also proposes more than $27 billion in discretionary funding and another $100 billion in mandatory funding over 10 years to implement the national strategy and transform behavioral health services for all Americans.
In this statement, the White House announced new, additional actions to advance the three objectives of the President's mental health strategy: strengthening system capacity, connecting more Americans to care, and creating a continuum of support.
Regarding strengthening system capacity, the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is issuing the first-ever Advisory on Health Worker Burnout, which lays out whole-of-society recommendations to advance health workers' well-being. The Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) is hiring 277 new Peer Specialists, and the Department of Defense (DOD) is hiring roughly 2,500 new personnel over the next six years to comprehensively address risk for conditions like mental illness and substance abuse. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching a new $15 million initiative to establish a Center of Excellence for Building Capacity in Nursing Facilities to Care for Residents with Behavioral Health Conditions.
To connect more Americans to care, HHS is announcing a nearly $3.5 million, five-year grant opportunity to launch a new Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Center of Excellence. The Department of Education is issuing new guidance to colleges and universities on how to use ARP relief funds to provide mental health and substance use disorder services on campus, which includes hiring mental health professionals, expanding virtual counseling support, offering stress-reduction activities, building peer support programs, and establishing student-staffed crisis hotlines.
In creating a continuum of support, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is launching a series of initiatives to train social and human services professionals in basic mental health skills. The VA is launching a National Center for Veterans Financial Empowerment to provide veterans with education, tools, and resources to successfully cope with financial strain, which is associated with negative mental health outcomes.
All of these new actions contribute to the efforts previously taken by the Biden-Harris Administration to strengthen behavioral health.
Click here to read the fact sheet from the White House for more details on both new initiatives, as well as those that have been under way, and for more information.