Mental health is an important component of our overall health, and it should be treated that way by our healthcare system. There is a mental health crisis in America with 1 in 5 adults experiencing mental illness annually.
Our life expectancy is declining due in part to increasing rates of suicide, especially among American youth. The teen suicide rate has gone up 56% from 2007 to 2017, and it is the second leading cause of death for Americans between the ages 10 and 34. 7.7 million youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year, but only half receive treatment. Anxiety and depression levels are at record highs. People of color and the LGBTQ community also experience higher risk of mental health issues due to disproportionate social and economic challenges.
Our veterans, too, do not receive the necessary mental health treatment they need when they come home. 22 veterans commit suicide every day since many don’t seek treatment due to embarrassment or shame. We need to destigmatize veteran treatment and support their stability to ensure successful transition to civilian life.
Substance abuse and mental health account for 1 of 8 emergency department visits. Only 43% of Americans with a mental illness receive treatment due to inadequate insurance coverage and provider shortages. It is urgent to integrate mental health care into health insurance plans and destigmatize mental health care while encouraging an increase in the number of people able to provide treatment.
Outside of mental illness, applying evidence-based stress relief methods in hospitals has been shown to shorten the length of stay. This is just one example of how caring for a patient’s mental health has demonstrable cost benefits. By creating a healthcare system that recognizes mental health as an integral part of physical health, we can improve both.
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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
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.
- 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...
- Integrate regular mental health checkups into primary care.
- Provide new funds for suicide prevention and awareness competency training for school administrators and teachers, and provide greater access to mental health services in schools.
- Build the mental health workforce through expansion of training programs and loan forgiveness programs for those that choose to provide these services to rural and underprivileged areas.
- Invest in veteran mental health, and improve funding to crisis helplines
- Utilize the current telehealth system to alleviate the widespread shortage of mental healthcare professionals, remove accessibility barriers caused by distance and transportation, and provide treatment from the privacy of patients’ homes.
- Begin a national anti-stigma campaign for mental health issues, “Everybody Needs Help Sometimes.”