APA Supports Sweeping Mental Health Agenda Proposed by Democratic Presidential Hopeful Hillary Clinton

ARLINGTON, Va. – The American Psychiatric Association (APA) welcomes and strongly supports the comprehensive mental health agenda introduced this afternoon by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"The detailed mental health plan outlined by Hillary Clinton is sweeping in nature and, if enacted, would greatly improve the nation's mental health care system," said APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D. "Her plan promotes early intervention and prevention, stronger enforcement of parity laws so psychiatric conditions are treated the same as other illnesses, and investments in brain and behavioral research. All of these measures are huge steps in the right direction."

The APA also applauds the inclusion of mental health into the nation's election year dialogue.

"We welcome the attention Clinton is giving to mental health, an issue that affects Americans from all walks of life," Oquendo said. "Our mental health system needs to be discussed this election season. Americans deserve to know how the candidates plan to address this important issue."

Clinton's plan includes a pledge to hold a White House Conference on Mental Health within the first year of her presidency. The APA supports a number of initiatives outlined in Clinton's plan, including:

  • A focus on early intervention efforts, such as the American Psychiatric Association Foundation's Typical or Troubled® program, which trains educators to quickly identify children in need to behavioral health resources.
  • A pledge to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which requires insurers to offer coverage for psychiatric illnesses on par with other illnesses.
  • The creation of a national initiative headed by the U.S. Surgeon General for suicide prevention. According to stats cited in Clinton's agenda, the overall rate of suicide in the U.S. increased 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, and is now at its highest level in three decades.
  • An effort to increase the integration between medical and behavioral health care systems and expand community-based treatment, which includes reimbursement for collaborative care models and a nationwide strategy to address the shortage of mental health providers. Our report on the Economic Impact of Integrated Medical-Behavioral Healthcare indicates system integration could yield an annual savings of $26-48 billion to health care systems.

Learn more about Clinton's agenda.

"We commend Secretary Clinton for showing that mental health is important to her by calling for a White House Conference on Mental Health within her first year of office," said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. "This plan – through parity, prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery – addresses the needs of every American who is affected directly or indirectly by mental illness."

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose more than 36,500 physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders.

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