There is a mental health crisis in America. Our life expectancy is declining due in part to increasing rates of suicide. Anxiety and depression levels are at record highs and being made worse in young people by excessive use of smartphones. In 2014, an American College Health Association survey of close to 100,000 college students reported that 86% felt overwhelmed by all they had to do, 54% felt overwhelming anxiety, and 8% seriously considered suicide in the last 12 months. Use of anti-depressants and prescription medications are also at unprecedented levels.
On the treatment side, too few Americans receive adequate treatment and many communities lack mental health resources. At the extreme end, some of the mentally ill become threats to others.
Americans are not doing well, and we need to change it. My brother is a psychology professor and I believe strongly in the power of counseling and treatment to improve people’s mental and emotional well-being. One major priority is to integrate mental health with our greater health care system - if someone comes to the hospital suffering from diabetes, obesity or substance abuse, there is often a link to their holistic mental health. Too many Americans don’t seek treatment, don’t have the resources, or resort to self-medication. A healthy population is a productive one. We will do all we can to establish a sense of well-being for millions who are currently suffering and remove the stigma from depression in particular.
Problems to be Solved
- There is currently a mental health crisis in America as suicides, anxiety and depression are at record highs
- Mental health is often treated as a separate set of issues and resources rather than integrated into the greater health care system
- Many communities lack access to psychologists and social workers
- Mental health issues continue to be stigmatized
- Quality of life
- Improve the mental health of millions of Americans
- Integrate mental and emotional wellness into the greater health care system
- Increase access to mental health resources
- Diminish the stigma around mental health issues, particularly depression
As President, I will…
- Begin a national anti-stigma campaign for mental health issues, “Everybody Needs Help Sometimes.”
- Encourage major health care systems to integrate mental health professionals into their primary care.
- Initiate mandatory coverage for postpartum depression screening for new mothers.
- Increase resources and incentives for counselors, social workers and psychologists in rural areas.
- Invest in AI counselors and other technology that may be helpful in identifying and treating mental health issues across a broad population. The AI would refer issues to a human psychologist.
- Promote the use of AI for social workers.
- Promote the use of AI and telecounseling for those who need a psychologist.
- Explore revision of licensing requirements that limit the supply of treatment providers.
- Provide robust incentives via a “Race to the Top” for health care systems to improve mental health outcomes and preventative care holistically.