CEOs of 14 Leading Mental Health Organizations Partner to Engage Federal and State Officials in 50 States to Prioritize Response to Growing Mental Health Crisis in the Country



WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2020 / PRNewswire / – The CEOs of the country’s 14 leading mental health advocacy organizations and professional associations today announced the formation of a unified coalition that will work with the federal government, governors and principal elected representatives in 50 states. present a roadmap to accelerate effective mental health as the country struggles to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

While more than half of all Americans struggle with mental health issues from the impact of COVID-19, the leadership group is a one-of-a-kind, solution-focused collaboration between the world’s largest mental health organizations and their CEOs to address the crisis and provide state and regional officials with a plan for systemic reform. The partnership effectively establishes and rallies a solidarity rarely seen in the mental health space, and speaks to the urgency of the mental health emergency, recalling previous collaborations established to address major health crises, including cancer. in the 1970s and HIV / AIDS in the 1980s.

The leadership coalition is made up of CEOs from the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Mental Health America, National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Health, One Mind, the Peg Foundation, the Steinberg Institute, the Kennedy Forum, the Treatment Advocacy Center and the Well Being Trust.

In a joint statement, the coalition of leaders said: “The mental health crisis that has evolved with the COVID pandemic is unprecedented. of their response to the pandemic. As leaders in mental health care, we offer a viable roadmap for immediate and long-term changes that will lead to a mental health care system capable of saving our nation. ”

The Leadership Coalition Plan – titled A unified vision for transforming mental health and addiction care – calls for policies, programs and standards that prioritize mental health care and address social and economic conditions – including racism and discrimination – that disproportionately impact people of color and the poor, and lead to inadequate and inequitable access to effective and humane treatment.

The CEO coalition was formed in early 2020, and the group began meeting in emergency sessions every week at the start of the pandemic, dramatically exacerbating fault lines in an already fractured mental health system. and worsened mental health problems across our country – including anxiety, depression, isolation, substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide. By providing “out-of-the-box” solutions, the group seeks to harness public-private partnerships and inspire systemic change.

“Mental health must be a priority for everyone, especially now in the context of COVID-19 and all that has happened this year,” said Daniel H. Gilison, Jr., co-organizer and CEO, National Alliance for Mental Illness. “It requires immediate action from the new administration, as well as state and local governments in all 50 states, and a recognized and consistent commitment to fixing what is broken in our health care system.”

Just as the public health care system was unprepared for a pandemic, an unprecedented mental health crisis affecting half of all Americans overwhelmed the mental health system. Since the start of the pandemic, the prevalence of symptoms of depression has tripled, overdose deaths have increased in 40 states and the CDC reports that 25% of young adults are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

In response, the group vision statement they will introduce proposes a detailed strategic plan to stem the current crisis and secure the future. The strategic plan offers proven ‘paths to success’ in seven critical policy areas identified as:

  1. Early identification and prevention, especially for families and young people;
  2. Rapid deployment of emergency crisis response and suicide prevention;
  3. Leveling of inequalities in access to care;
  4. Establish integrated health and mental health care to ensure the well-being of “the whole person”;
  5. Achieve parity in payment by health plans for mental health and drug addiction coverage;
  6. Ensure evidence-based standards of treatment and care; and,
  7. Engage a diverse workforce in mental health care, peer support and community programs.

The vision includes a detailed proposal for how the new administration, Congress, state and local governors and legislators are to work in tandem with the business community and the nonprofit sector to promote systemic changes in the system. mental health care.

Among the seven suggestions are a number of ideas that can be implemented quickly, such as adopting telehealth and implementing strategic shifts towards early intervention that can help bring relief by bringing telehealth. outside of a clinical setting.and in schools, community centers, prisons; quick follow-up new emergency response systems, like the new “988” National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, for immediate access on mobile operators; and, engage a diverse workforce in mental health care, providing additional supports by expanding access to peer support groups and community programs.

“We need bold action on the part of our government and the business community,” said the former representative of the United States. Patrick j kennedy, founder of the Kennedy Forum. “Just as a number of talented infectious disease experts are guiding the country’s medical response to COVID-19, it is imperative that mental health experts have the opportunity to guide our country’s mental health recovery efforts. We encourage all state governments to engage with health leaders, engage them in pandemic-related responses, and actively facilitate their communication with communities across the country. “

“We call on the new administration to appoint leaders who understand the urgency and who will advocate for resources commensurate with needs,” said Danna mauch, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health. “The lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is not just about our lack of preparedness. It is also about our ingenuity as a society to mobilize public-private partnerships in response to public health emergencies, including the crisis. of behavioral health in America. ”

“Anyone living with a mental illness or substance use disorder deserves prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery services like any medical illness,” said the CEO and medical director of the American Psychiatric Association. Saul Levin, MD, MPA “The document creates a roadmap for both the federal and state governments, as well as the public and private sectors, to achieve parity for mental health and addiction services.

“Everyone recognizes that there is a problem,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., CEO, American Psychological Association. “What sets our plan apart is that we offer specific and achievable priorities and solutions to meet the current needs of millions of Americans and transform the health care system for the future. We welcome the opportunity to work with local and state leaders and provide much more detail on our plan. ”

CEOs organizations and leadership

American Psychiatric Association / CEO & Medical Director: Saul Levin, MD, MPA, FRCP-E

American Psychological Association / CEO and Exec. Vice President: Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD

Massachusetts Assn for Mental Health / President and CEO, Danna mauch, PhD

Meadows Institute for Mental Health Policy / President and CEO, Andy Keller, PhD

Mental health America / President and CEO, Paul Gionfriddo

National Assn for Behavioral Health / President and CEO: Shawn coughlin

National Alliance Against Mental Illness (NAMI) / CEO, Daniel H. Gilison, Jr.

National Council for Behavioral Health / President and CEO, Charles Ingoglia, MSW

A spirit / President, Garen Staglin; President, Brandon staglin

Peg Foundation / President, Rick kellar, MBA

Steinberg Institute / Chair, Thomas insel, MD (former director of NIMH until 2015)

The Kennedy Forum / Former representative of the United States (D-RI) and founder, Kennedy Forum: Patrick J. Kennedy

Treatment advocacy center / Executive director: John snook

Well-being Confidence / General manager: Tyler norris, Mdiv

A Unified Vision for Transforming Mental Health and Substance Use Care

SOURCE American Psychiatric Association; American Psychological Association; Massachusetts Association for Mental Health; Meadows Institute for Mental Health Policy; Mental Health America; National Association for Behavioral Health; National Alliance on Mental Illness; National Council for Behavioral Health; A spirit; the Peg Foundation; Steinberg Institute; the Kennedy Forum; Treatment advocacy center; Well-being Confidence

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