Hillary Clinton Unveils Her Campaign's Agenda for Mental Health Reform

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton revealed Monday her plan to reform U.S. mental health care. Approximately 40 million Americans live with a mental health condition, 14 million of whom have with a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

In a brief on her campaign’s website, Clinton outlined six areas of improvement her administration would focus on, should she be elected in November.

1. Promoting Early Diagnosis and Intervention

17 million children and one in four college students in the U.S. have a mental illness. In her brief, Clinton outlines a plan that would focus on improving mental health diagnostics and treatment for postpartum mothers, children and college students. Clinton would also create a national initiative to address and prevent suicide.

2. Integrating Physical and Mental Health Care

Approximately 60 percent of Americans who live with mental illness do not receive mental health care. Part of Clinton’s plan includes improving access to care, promoting community-based care, training more mental health care specialists and improving Medicaid and Medicare billing and reimbursement for practitioners. According to Clinton’s brief, her administration will work to ensure that physical and mental health care are treated equally – in both access to and quality of care.

3. Improving Criminal Justice Outcomes 

America’s county jails currently house more people with mental illnesses than the country’s state and local psychiatric hospitals. To address this, Clinton plans on training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for low-level, non-violent offenders.

4. Enforcing Mental Health Insurance Benefits

According to the “Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008,” mental health benefits under group insurance plans should be equal to those afforded to other medical and physical health conditions. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. Should Clinton become president, she plans on enforcing the bill – which she co-sponsored – to the full extent of the law.

5. Improving Access to Housing and Jobs

Part of Clinton’s six-point plan focuses on providing public housing and job opportunities for those with mental illnesses. The Clinton administration also says it will expand protection and advocacy support programs.

6. Investing in Brain and Behavioral Research

To foster better treatments for mental illnesses, Clinton plans on providing funding for more brain and behavioral research, as well as developing new partnerships between public, private and non-profit sectors.

To read the brief in its entirety, click here.

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