As we approach the 2020 presidential election, there are hot debates about a number of topics. From immigration to health care and gun control to the economy and taxes, there are plenty of problems to be solved. Another topic that is not discussed or debated as much is the growing mental health issues we are facing as a country. Suicide rates and opioid addictions are some of the leading causes of death in the United States. One in five people reports having struggled with mental wellness. With these staggering statistics, it is no wonder that some of our 2020 presidential candidates are speaking out about these issues.
Let’s Take a Look at the Candidates’ Plans
Of the current front runners (as of March 24th, 2020), nearly all of them at least mention mental health issues as part of their platform. Our hope is that after reading this, you can feel more informed on where our future president stands regarding mental health.
In his past government work, Joe helped implement the mental health parity law and worked to eliminate the stigma around mental health. His campaign website states that he will redouble those efforts to ensure the enforcement of mental health parity laws and expand funding for mental health services. Mental health parity laws address the equal treatment of mental health conditions in health insurance plans and help allow people to receive the treatment they need. Joe also participated in an interview about mental health where he goes more into detail on veteran mental health, drug abuse, and opioid addiction, mental health for underserved populations, and more. You can find that here: https://www.mentalhealthforus.net/candidate/joe-biden/
If we look at the candidates still in the race, Bernie Sanders is probably the most vocal about the need for mental health resources and healthcare overall. Bernie states that we should be spending more money on mental health specialists and investing in new drugs and technologies that help cure diseases and alleviate pain. His Medicare for all plan includes ways to shift money away from big pharmaceutical companies and health insurance lobbies and towards the American people. This would help provide mental health care for Americans that need it at either a low cost or no cost at all. His plan includes increasing taxes on the wealthy and on corporations in order to pay for this.
President Donald Trump:
On Trump’s campaign website, there is no mention of mental health. He does discuss the opioid epidemic and that the administration has helped forward $500 million from our national budget towards treating opioid abuse. Despite there not being much on Trump’s campaign website, he has shown that he is committed to helping people struggle with their mental wellness. In December 2019, President Trump announced an increase in mental health spending, which would go on to help the opioid crisis, veterans, and early mental health problems detection. President Trump has mentioned he recognizes the long-term benefits of addressing mental health with strategies and programs that have shown positive outcomes.
The Impact of a Candidate’s Mental Health Plan
After looking at the data, there is no question that our nation, and even the world, is having trouble combatting the mental health problems we face today. It is my belief that the private sector, the government, and we as friends, family, neighbors, and strangers need to come together and help combat the problems we face today. It is possible that a certain candidate’s mental health policy won’t sway your vote one way or the other, but it is a factor to consider, and one that may become more important in the future.
Whatever political stance you may take, we invite you to investigate further into your candidate’s mental health plan. See if it lines up with your belief and if they are working to address the mental health problems our nation is facing. And if you’re up for it, share your mental health journey with us at overtfoundation.org/share.
If you’re interested in seeing some of the past candidates’ ideas, see below:
Warren mentions that we must “prioritize affordable, high-quality mental health services.” She introduces her “Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act”, which would holder insurers accountable for providing mental health benefits and ensure that Americans receive the protections they are guaranteed by law. She also mentions investing $100 billion dollars over the next 10 years in fighting the opioid crisis, which would go towards the people on the front line: first responders, public health departments, and communities on the front line.
Andrew Yang has specific ideas around the opioid epidemic as well as investing in mental health. He mentions specific ideas such as mandatory postpartum depression screening, increasing resources for social workers in rural areas, and encouraging major health care systems to integrate mental health professionals into their primary care. Yang is also big on technology and discusses ways we can integrate new and emerging technologies into our future mental health treatments.
Pete’s website includes a specific section on mental health and combatting addiction. He hopes to prevent 1 million deaths due to drugs, alcohol, and suicide by 2028. Buttigieg will also empower communities to leverage their own innovation and expertise to improve mental health and prevent addiction through a 10-year $100 billion Healing and belonging grant program. He hopes to decriminalize mental illnesses, require schools to teach mental health first aid courses, and help ensure that mental health care is as accessible as treatment for physical conditions.
On Bloomberg’s campaign website, there was no mention of mental health in his health coverage policy section. He does have a separate section about the opioid epidemic, where he states that he hopes to help hospitals be better equipped to fight these issues and enforce current laws surrounding mental health treatment and substance abuse disorders.
Ben Roberts, Director of Community
Ben enjoys helping people become their best selves and enjoys working to help solve problems around mental health to ensure that people can live fulfilling lives. He joined the Overt Foundation in April of 2019 and works to help ensure that things run smoothly and that people are getting the help they need.