Today, Hillary Clinton announced her comprehensive plan to support Americans living with mental health problems and illnesses—by integrating our healthcare systems and finally putting the treatment of mental health on par with that of physical health. Nearly a fifth of all adults in the United States, more than 40 million people, are coping with a mental health problem. Close to 14 million people live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Moreover, many of these individuals have additional complicating life circumstances, such as drug or alcohol addiction, homelessness, or involvement with the criminal justice system. Veterans are in acute need of mental health care, with close to 20% of those returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars experiencing post-traumatic stress or depression. And the problem is not limited to adults: an estimated 17 million children in the United States experience mental health problems, as do one in four college students.
Americans with mental health conditions and their families need our support. The economic impact of mental illness is enormous –at nearly $200 billion per year nationwide in lost earnings —and the human cost is worse. Too many Americans are being left to face mental health problems on their own, and too many individuals are dying prematurely from associated health conditions. We must do better. To date in this campaign, Hillary set out policies that will direct support to individuals with mental health problems and their families—including a detailed agenda to support military service members and veterans, an initiative to end America’s epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, and a robust caregivers’ agenda. Today, she is building on those proposals with a comprehensive agenda on mental health. Hillary’s plan will:
Promote early diagnosis and intervention, including launching a national initiative for suicide prevention.
Integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person,” and significantly enhance community-based treatment
Improve criminal justice outcomes by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for non-violent, low-level offenders.
Enforce mental health parityto the full extent of the law.
Improve access to housing and job opportunities.
Invest in brain and behavioral researchand developing safe and effective treatments.
As a down-payment on this agenda, Hillary will convene a White House Conference on Mental Health during her first year as President. Her goal is that within her time in office, Americans will no longer separate mental health from physical health when it comes to access to care or quality of treatment. The next generation must grow up knowing that mental health is a key component of overall health and there is no shame, stigma, or barriers to seeking out care.