On Inauguration Day, NAMI Calls for Addressing Mental Health: the Silent Epidemic within the Pandemic
Arlington, Va. — As the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) congratulates President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration today. NAMI looks forward to working with the new administration to build better lives for the millions of people in our country who are affected by mental illness.
More people than ever are experiencing anxiety and depression for the first time because of the challenges related to COVID-19, economic hardship and racial injustice. The demand for mental health services is increasing. We are in the midst of alarming mental health, substance use and suicide challenges that are taxing an already fragmented system of care.
Last week, President Biden announced the American Rescue Plan, which includes significant investments that would help people with mental health conditions. In addition to proposals that will help people access mental health care and focus on their wellness, including expanding health care subsidies, extending the eviction moratorium and providing emergency housing assistance, the plan specifically addresses the country’s mental health needs during this crisis. The plan calls for an additional $4 billion to help people access mental health and substance use care.
“We need to alleviate the pain and suffering of millions of Americans by increasing access to quality mental health and substance use interventions,” said Daniel H. Gillison Jr., CEO of NAMI. “More people—including our nation’s youth and first responders—are reporting their mental health is worse than it was a year ago. NAMI applauds the President’s call for substantial resources to expand access to mental health and substance use services.”
To further address the growing mental health epidemic within the pandemic, NAMI urges the Biden administration to prioritize a cross-agency effort to help people get on the path to recovery. We hope the new administration will use the Unified Vision for Transforming Mental Health and Substance Use Care, developed in partnership with 14 of the nation’s leading mental health organizations, as a roadmap to changing the paradigm for mental health care in our country. To achieve this vision, we must institute policies, programs and standards that value the critical importance of mental health. We must intentionally address the inequities in care and unacceptable disparities in outcomes that result from systemic racism and discrimination. We must invest in comprehensive system solutions that promote mental wellness for all.
Together, NAMI looks forward to working with President Biden and his administration to find solutions that help everyone get the mental health support they need.