On Mental Health Action Day, the Biden administration announced new measures to combat what it calls an “unprecedented mental health crisis” affecting people of all ages. One of the proposed rules released by the Department of Education would allow modifications to the Medicaid billing process, making it easier for schools to offer mental health services to students with Medicaid. $280 million in funding will also be allocated for strengthening the pipeline of mental health professionals, including school psychologists, counselors, and social workers working in schools and school-based health services.
The Biden administration is investing in early childhood mental health as well, with nearly $10 million in grants to organizations that provide interventions and treatment services for children from birth to age 12. These actions will focus on helping children and adolescents who are being affected by the mental health crisis. A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 44% of high school students and nearly three in five girls reported suffering from persistent sadness and hopelessness. The survey also found that 13% of girls and 7% of boys had attempted suicide in 2021.
In addition to the proposed rule and funding, the Biden administration is also investing $200 million to expand response capabilities. A portion of this funding will be used to help each state hire and train a workforce of 988 people. The federal government is looking to expand access to peer support, people who have experienced mental health problems or substance abuse and are now working to help those facing similar problems.
Other steps being taken include making mental health care easier to find through a new website, FindSupport.Gov, supporting mental health for workers through guidance and training resources for employers, and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health struggles. The Department of Veterans Affairs is introducing a campaign to reduce the stigma of mental health struggles among veterans.
Surgeon General Vivek Morsi recently issued recommendations on addressing loneliness, which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death. The CDC has launched a website with suggestions on how to fight loneliness by improving social connections. Together, these actions can save lives and improve mental health outcomes for Americans of all ages.