On the heels of a new Surgeon General’s Advisory on youth mental health, The Kennedy Forum has released a policy platform that outlines actions states can take to address rising rates of mental health and substance use disorders across the nation. The document provides lawmakers with specific guidance on advancing evidenced-based practices in youth mental health; achieving better integration with primary care; ensuring parity in insurance coverage; and addressing political determinants of health to achieve mental health equity, including comprehensive crisis care and criminal justice system diversion.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy noted in his Advisory, “As we learn the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, and start recovering and rebuilding, we have an opportunity to offer a more comprehensive, more fulfilling, and more inclusive vision of what constitutes public health…change can’t come soon enough.”
NOW is the time to prioritize state-based infrastructure to better serve youth and adults struggling with mental health and addiction challenges—and walk the walk to empower people with the skills and support they need to thrive.
With billions of additional dollars flowing to states through federal COVID relief and new federal Medicaid support for mobile crisis response, the stage is set for game-changing improvements in the ways we address mental health prevention, treatment, and education. State leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to directly address long-standing inequities in access to mental health and addiction care and advance policy and clinical interventions that benefit everyone.
We hope this new resource, which outlines health care delivery models/services states can implement immediately as well as guidance on Medicaid programs and examples of promising practices, will help to usher in a new era of mental health equity.
Access the State Platform here.