Clinton Unveils Comprehensive Agenda on Mental Health (Updated)

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Hillary Clinton announced her comprehensive plan to better treat people living with a mental illness. The current mental health treatment policies have been criticized for not properly treating patients. Highlights of Clinton’s plan include the expansion of early intervention programs, a national suicide prevention initiative, increased training for police in dealing with the mentally ill, providing mental health care for those who commit non-violent crimes, expanding employment opportunities, and increasing investments in research for the brain and behavioral research. An outline of the plan is below, and the full plan can be read on The Briefing.

  1. Early Diagnosis and Intervention
    • Increase public awareness and take action to address maternal depression, infant mental health, and trauma and stress in the lives of young children
    • Scale up efforts to help pediatric practices and schools support children facing behavioral problems
    • Help providers share information and best practices
    • Ensure that college students have access to mental health services
  2. Federal Support for Suicide Prevention
    • Create a national initiative around suicide prevention across the lifespan that is headed by the Surgeon General
    • Encourage evidence-based suicide prevention and mental health programs in high schools
    • Provide federal support for suicide prevention on college campuses
    • Partner with colleges and researchers to ensure that students of color and LGBT students are receiving adequate mental health coverage
  3. Integrate our Healthcare Systems and Expand Community-Based Treatment
    • Foster integration between the medical and behavioral health care systems (including mental health and addiction services), so that high-quality treatment for behavioral health is widely available in general health care settings
    • Expand reimbursement systems for collaborative care models in Medicare and Medicaid
    • Promote the use of health information technology to foster coordination of care
    • Promote the use of peer support specialists
    • Encourage states to allow same-day billing
    • Support the creation of high-quality, comprehensive community health centers in every state
    • Launch a nationwide strategy to address the shortage of mental health providers
  4. Improve Outcomes in the Criminal Justice System
    • Dedicate new resources to help train law enforcement officers in responding to encounters involving persons with mental illness, and increase support for law enforcement partnerships with mental health professionals
    • Prioritize treatment over punishment for low-level, non-violent offenders with mental illnesses
  5. Enforcing Mental Health Parity
    • Launch randomized audits to detect parity violations, and increase federal enforcement
    • Enforce disclosure requirements so that insurers cannot conceal their practices for denying mental health care
    • Strengthen federal monitoring of health insurer compliance with network adequacy requirements
    • Create a simple process for patients, families, and providers to report parity violations and improve federal-state coordination on parity enforcement
  6. Housing and Job Opportunities
    • Expand community-based housing opportunities for individuals with mental illness and other disabilities
    • Expand employment opportunities for people with mental illness
    • Expand protection and advocacy support for people with mental health conditions
  7. Brain and Behavioral Science Research
    • Significantly increase research into brain and behavioral science research
    • Develop new links with the private and non-profit sectors
    • Commit to brain and behavioral science research based on open data

UPDATE (8/30/16): Hillary for America announced that Clinton and Tim Kaine spoke with the mental health policy community including patients, advocates, researchers, policy experts, physicians, counselors, and service providers. The conference call featured people from across the country and allowed Clinton to speak about her plan and hear feedback from experts.

Following the meeting, Clinton said, “I have heard heartbreaking stories for years about these incredible challenges, but during this campaign, it has seemed like a floodgate has opened from parents and students, from veterans, nurses, doctors, police officers. But I’ve also heard stories of hope and courage – people getting the help they needed, being able to lead happy, healthy, and thriving lives. And cities and states are deploying innovative programs, and that’s what we want to hear more of. We’ve got to break through and break down the stigma and shame. We’ve got to make clear that mental health is not a personal failing. Right now, it is our country which is failing people with mental health issues.”

Kaine said, “I am really happy that today when our campaign rolled out this proposal with respect to comprehensive mental health improvement, that we decided one group of people that we really want to talk to is college students. Most mental health challenges do first present themselves during adolescence or college. So, while even a mental health challenge of an adult later in life may become more manifest, there are early signs about it. One in four college students today do acknowledge that they are dealing with mental health challenges at some point along the way. And it is very important that we are aware of that and that we make clear that it’s normal, there is no stigma associated with it. And we want to make sure that there are appropriate resources, innovative resources, community-based resources so that people can access help, and that the response of society is treatment rather than judgment or pretending that it doesn’t exist.”

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News Source: The Briefing, USA Today

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