" Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and well-being" - Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General (October 2020)
Date of Event: Wednesday, August 24th 2022
Time of Event: 9:30 AM — 1:00 PM PST
Place of Event: Webinar
According to Mental Health America (MHA), the largest mental health advocacy group in the country, one in five Americans, or 20%, experienced some kind of mental illness in 2019. Two years of the Coronavirus pandemic later, data from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that in January of 2021, 40% of American adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. Of that number, 36% turned to substances to cope and 30% had seriously contemplated suicide. Essential workers made up a majority share of all three statistics. Rates of mental illness amongst youth have also increased during this period. According to data collected by the CDC through March of 2022, 44% of school-aged teens reported feeling persistently hopeless, up from 36% in 2019. Youth suicides, already at a high-water mark pre-Covid, climbed even higher with hospitals registering up to 50% higher rates of admission in the winter of 2021 than what they’d seen just 12 months prior. MHA also notes that more than half of people suffering with mental health concerns in America are suffering without treatment either because of cost, availability, or stigma against seeking help.
On the Federal policy front, President Biden, in his first State of the Union Address, unveiled a comprehensive Mental Health Strategy designed to expand and strengthen the capacities of the mental healthcare system; to connect Americans to mental healthcare through more robust insurance coverage; and to improve the mental health environment, especially for children and young people who spend so much time in digital spaces. Another measure just launched in July of this year is a national mental health alternative to 911 that connects individuals in crisis to a mental health professional who can de-escalate the situation over the phone or call in a specialized response team.
NPR and other news outlets have reported experts are encouraged that the Federal government is taking an active role in mental health for the first time in four decades. They believe that if properly implemented and funded, the President’s proposals will go a long way towards addressing the shortcomings in access to mental health care treatment. They are also supportive of the mental health hotline and see it as a long overdue alternative to sending law enforcement to respond to mental health crises. The President’s critics meanwhile worry that the focus on treatment, while welcome, does little to address the root causes of economic despair and hopelessness at the core of Americans’ poor mental health. Critics from the right also argue that because of the sheer volume of mental health calls police receive, and the violent nature of some mental health encounters, law enforcement is still the best positioned group to respond to such incidents.
This symposium will offer a chance for policymakers, mental health care providers, social workers, community leaders, representatives of the healthcare and insurance industries, and other stakeholders to examine this issue in an open and non-partisan context with the goal of interrogating existing policies to identify shortcomings for improvement in the mental health of all Americans.
Examine the relationship between Federal and state mental health architectures to identify gaps in funding or treatment.
Discuss the positive impact that expanded access to mental health care through Federal or State programs can have on mental health outcomes and identify ways to build on or replicate policy successes.
Identify opportunities for local and regional authorities, particularly in rural and underserved areas to bridge mental health treatment gaps and discuss obstacles they may face to doing so.
Analyze the impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic has had mental health, particularly that of children, and assess strategies to connect youth with the treatment they need.
Identify environmental triggers leading to greater rates of depression and anxiety and discuss strategies to raise awareness of the need for holistic policy solutions
Understand the roots of racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in access to mental health care and identify strategies to bridge access gaps
Raise awareness of the fact that 5-20% of emergency calls to law enforcement are mental health related, and evaluate the feasibility of moving to more specialized crisis response teams.
Address the mental health crisis among first responders, a population with five times as many instances of depression and PTSD as the general population, and 85% of whom have experienced mental health issues.
Behavioral Health/Mental Health Administrators, Coordinators, Providers
SUD/Mental Health Clinicians
First Responder Organizations
Emergency Services Organizations
Substance Misuse Counselors
Recovery Services Staff
Sober Living Providers
County SUD Administrators and Prevention Coordinators
SUD Researchers and Academics
SUD Policy and Advocacy Workers
AOD Counselours/Case Managers/Support Staff
Coalition, Community and Faith-based Organizations
Veteran Service Providers
DUI Service Providers
Health Care Administrators, Planners, Providers
School Health Clinicians
Tribal and Indian Health Clinicians/Traditional Healers
Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies
Tribal Community Leaders and Social Services Specialists
Public Health Administrators, Planners, Providers
Primary Care Physicians
General Practitioners and Nurses
Education Administrators and Planners
School District and LEA Representatives
Court Personnel, Probation and Parole officers
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Officials
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Department of Education Officials
Department of Veterans Affairs Officials
Department of Public Health Officials
Department of Health and Human Services Officials
Drug Enforcement Agency Officials
County and City Departments of Mental Health Workers
Social Services Caseworkers/Social Workers
Foster Youth Advocates and Providers
Homeless Advocates, Caseworkers, Outreach Teams and Placement Coordinators
Shelter Case Managers
Counseling Services Workers
Family Support and Outreach Teams
Adult and Community Education Providers
Early Intervention and Prevention Teams
Rehabilitation Center Officials
Addiction Psychiatrists and Psychologists
Addiction Services Administrators
Third Sector Organizations/NGOs
Academics and Researchers
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