Yesterday, I was just delighted to receive Hillary Clinton’s Comprehensive Mental Health Policy proposals for her first term (here). Later in the day, I was even more delighted to be invited to a large teleconference in which she summarized these proposals in a 15 minute overview.
Two things struck me on the call. First, Clinton stated categorically that mental health will be a top priority of her administration. Second, she also stated categorically that she will convene a White House Conference on Mental Health during her first year in office. Wow! We could not ask her for more.
What about her proposals themselves? Excellent evidence exists that she is addressing the appropriate topics. Her proposals include the sacred trilogy that has guided the National Coalition for Whole Health for more than eight years: insurance parity; prevention and promotion; and care integration. As you already are too aware, we continue to struggle with each of these issues. In fact, President Obama recently created a task force on parity to make recommendations on next steps, and the Affordable Care Act currently is developing innovations to address the other two.
Clinton's proposals also give strong evidence that she understands each of the three issues, and that she has quite reasonable plans for grappling with them. She knows that parity must be enforced by the federal government; she knows that early prevention is essential if we are to reduce personal crises and downstream costs; and she knows that care integration is a gradual process necessary for whole person care.
Her proposals also demonstrate that she understands the current dilemmas confronting mental health: Here again, she identifies three: large-scale incarceration of persons with mental illness; the dramatic rise in suicides; and the mental health workforce crisis. She intends to address all three as president. I am certain you agree that all three must to be tackled by our next president.
Almost all of today’s hall and internet chatter around Clinton’s proposals has been quite positive. This includes comments by leaders and providers in the field, by media representatives who address mental health and by consumers themselves.
Where do we go from here? I, for one, think that we must thank Clinton profusely for the very careful and comprehensive manner in which she has crafted her mental health policy proposals. They are realistic; they are necessary; and we are ready to work on each of them with her beginning on January 20.
It also is quite important to add that we actually can begin working on several of these issues right now. We have again begun advocating for the Senate to pass the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (more here). Like Clinton’s proposals, this critical piece of legislation focuses on care integration, prevention, and human resource development.
You might ask: Where are Donald Trump’s mental health policy proposals? Undoubtedly, we will be waiting a very, very long time for an answer to this question.