How the White House is honoring Mental Health Action Day

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US President Joe Biden holds a pen as he prepares to sign a series of orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, after being sworn in at the US Capitol on January 20, 2021. – US President Joe Biden signed a raft of executive orders to launch his administration, including a decision to rejoin the Paris climate accord. The orders were aimed at reversing decisions by his predecessor, reversing the process of leaving the World Health Organization, ending the ban on entries from mostly Muslim-majority countries, bolstering environmental protections and strengthening the fight against Covid-19. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Biden-Harris administration reiterated a series of improvements to access and care for mental health and substance abuse disorders on the first-ever Mental Health Action Day.

Mental Health Action Day was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on mental health across the globe. A coalition of non-profits, brands and leaders collaborated to provide tools to help people take action in support of mental health. 

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggest that one-third of adults experienced anxiety and depression over the last year.

The White House says it’s making meaningful strides addressing the pandemic and working to safely reopen, but the burden of mental health distress and substance abuse must also be confronted in order to achieve and maintain wellness post-pandemic. 

Data underscores the urgency of the country’s mental health crisis.

For example, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., while deaths by overdose are increasing.

Nearly 90,000 deaths by overdose have been recorded over the course of a 12-year period that ended in September 2020.

The Biden-Harris Administration has taken the following actions to bolster access to mental health and substance abuse care:

  • Expand access to affordable healthcare 
    • Strengthening the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by expanding coverage to more than 20 million Americans by ensuring mental health and substance abuse care is an essential benefit to everyone with coverage
    • On Feb. 15, the Administration for a special enrollment period that runs through Aug. 15 to give people who need health insurance the opportunity to enroll
      • More than 1 million Americans have registered, as of May 11, 2021
    • The American Rescue Plan (ARP) has made coverage more affordable by lowering premiums for people purchasing coverage on their own by $50 per person, per month. Now four out of five people can purchase a plan for less than $10 a month
  • Increase investments for community-based mental health and substance abuse care 
    • The ARP increased mental health and substance use preventions, treatment and recovery services investments that include an increase of $3 billion for Mental Health and Substance Use Block Grant Programs that deliver resources to states and local communities to offer services like screenings, outpatient treatment and emergency services
    • The ARP addresses the needs of frontline workers through a $1.4 billion allocation to support the mental health and substance use needs of health care workers, paraprofessionals, public safety officers and other first responders
      • The funding is designed to address burning and ensure access to evidence-based services
    • Deliver $80 million in funding for local services for substance use and behavioral health needs and $420 million to support the expansion of certified community behavioral health clinics
    • The ARP also has an option for states to use Medicaid funding to provide community-based crisis intervention services for people experiencing mental health crises
  • Address youth mental health
    • The ARP provides $122 billion in relief funding for schools to help campuses safely reopen 
      • Funding can be used to hire school psychologists, counselors and make other investments to address the mental health needs of students 
      • $30 million will go to Project AWARE, a grant program for state education agencies to enhance wellness and resiliency for youth in school-based settings 
    • $80 million will go to the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program that promotes the integration of behavioral health into pediatric primary care settings and dedicates $20 million of the funding to support youth suicide prevention
    • $10 million were allocated by the ARP to support the National Child Traumatic Stress Network that will raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families and their communities 
  • Enhance access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder 
    • The Department of Health and Human Services issued revised guidelines to reduce the burden on providers who want to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use in outpatient settings

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