Note: This page is a reproduction of the Hillary for America policy proposal on mental health.
More than 40 million adults in America—nearly 1 in 5—and 17 million children are coping with a mental health problem. Too many individuals are being left to deal with these issues on their own, and many face complicating life circumstances like drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, incarceration, or chronic health conditions.
These Americans and their families need our support. Hillary Clinton strongly believes we have to bring mental and behavioral health care on par with physical health care—and end the shame and stigma associated with treatment. To that end, she has announced a comprehensive mental health agenda that will:
- Promote early diagnosis and intervention. The majority of Americans living with lifelong mental health illnesses show signs of distress at an early age, and yet few are treated. As president, Hillary will increase public awareness and action to address maternal depression, infant mental health, and trauma and stress in the lives of young children. She will scale up funding for programs through which pediatricians and schools seek to identify and support children facing behavioral problems. And she will encourage colleges and universities to provide comprehensive mental health services.
- Launch a national initiative for suicide prevention. America is facing the highest suicide rate in 30 years—and it’s becoming increasingly prevalent among adolescents, college students, veterans, and older adults. As president, Hillary will create a national, cross-governmental suicide prevention initiative to be led by the surgeon general and involve all relevant agencies, from HHS to the VA to USDA. She’ll provide federal support for suicide prevention programs in high schools and on college campuses, and she’ll work to ensure schools are meeting the mental health needs of all students—particularly LGBT students and students of color.
- Integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person” and expand community-based treatment.Hillary will work to foster better integration of our health care systems so that high-quality behavioral care—for mental health problems and as well as addiction—is available in general health care settings. She’ll launch a national strategy to increase the number of mental health providers. And she will support the creation of top grade, comprehensive community health centers in every state where behavioral care is available.
- Prioritize treatment over jail for low-level, nonviolent offenders and help train law enforcement officers in responding to conflicts involving persons with mental illness. Hillary will increase investments in local programs, such as specialized courts, drug courts, and veterans’ treatment courts, which emphasize treatment and rehabilitation over incarceration. She will also direct the attorney general to issue guidance to federal prosecutors, instructing them to prioritize treatment over incarceration for low-level, nonviolent offenders. And she will ensure adequate training for law enforcement on crisis intervention so that officers can properly and safely respond to individuals with mental illness.
- Enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which Hillary proudly co-sponsored, requires group health plans to provide the same level of benefits for mental health as other medical conditions. Despite the law, too many Americans seeking mental health treatment still get turned away. Hillary will strengthen federal monitoring to make sure insurers are complying with the mental health parity law—and she’ll make it easier for patients to file a complaint when their rights are violated.
- Improve access to housing and job opportunities. Hillary will launch a joint initiative among HUD, HHS, and USDA to expand community-based housing opportunities for individuals with mental illness and other disabilities. She’ll work with private employers and state and local mental health authorities to expand job opportunities for Americans with mental health issues. And she’ll increase support for the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program.
- Invest in brain behavioral science research. As part of a broad new investment in scientific research, Hillary will provide new federal funding for research into brain development and human behavior, promote research partnerships across sectors, and ensure data is widely shared.
Hillary’s plan builds on a long record of fighting for better services for Americans with mental illnesses:
- In the U.S. Senate, she co-sponsored the Campus Care and Counseling Act, which established critical mental health support and early suicide prevention for college students across the country.
- She also supported a $500 million increase in mental health care for veterans, co-sponsored the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, and worked across the aisle to make sure their mental health needs would be included in policy recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- And she strongly supported the enactment of mental health parity laws, which have helped ensure that millions of Americans with mental illness do not lose access to the services that they need because of financial restrictions or arbitrary treatment limits.