HHS Summit Focuses on Greater Mental Health Access

May 17, 2023

On May 4, 2023, the HHS summit, "Support is Here to Strengthen Mental Health," was held. The summit centered around Mental Health Awareness Month and focused on the three mental health pillars of the Biden administration:  

  • Strengthening system capacity. 

  • Connecting Americans to care.  

  • Supporting Americans by creating healthy environments. 

The summit was moderated by Tisamarie Sherry, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and the summit was opened with remarks from Secretary Xavier Becerra, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

Secretary Becerra announced new initiatives by the Biden Administration to increase access to mental health resources and support. The two initiatives – FindSupport.gov and the HHS Children and Youth Resilience Challenge – will increase access to health resources and support for those working to address mental health challenges. 

Strengthening System Capacity 

  • 40% of health care providers say that they may leave their practice in the next two years due to burnout.   

  • The Biden Administration has committed help and guidance to increasing the mental health workforce and addressing mental health burnout by investing $400 million in expanding training programs for mental health providers. 

  • HRSA has invested $100 million to create a stronger mental health workforce in rural areas. 

  • The National Health Service Corp. has also incentivized clinicians to work in rural areas. Currently 20,000 clinicians are slated to start working in rural parts of the country. 

Connecting Americans to Care  

  • The government would like to improve access to behavioral health care by addressing the unique barriers that people in different communities’ experience, and providing services that can meet them where they are.  

  • The pandemic has exacerbated mental health needs, especially in underserved communities. Through initiatives like the NAMI Sharing Hope Program, we can help eliminate disparities and achieve mental health equity.  

  • The Biden administration has invested $1 billion in 988 Lifeline implementation and maintenance.  

  • As part of continuing efforts by the Biden-Harris Administration to increase access to mental health and substance use resources, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched FindSupport.gov, a new website to help people identify available resources, and learn how to reach out to get the support they need for issues related to mental health, drugs, or alcohol. 

Supporting Americans by creating healthy environments. 

  • The American Rescue Plan dedicated millions of dollars to youth mental health. The President’s budget proposed to make investments in youth mental health services, including more than $70 million in infant and early childhood mental health programs such as Project LAUNCH which works to ensure that the systems that serve young children have the resources to foster their social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development. 

  • The Biden Administration will also continue funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program of the Department of Health and Human Services, which supports new families by teaching positive parenting skills, conducting developmental and mental health screenings, promoting school readiness, and linking to community resources and supports. 

  • Increase mental health resources for justice-involved populations. 

  • Train social and human services professionals in basic mental health skills. 

The most important takeaways from the summit are that the Biden Administration, along with stakeholders, are actively working to provide resources for greater access to mental health services in rural and underserved communities. They are also providing critical resources to support our behavioral provider workforce. 

If you have additional questions or would like to become involved in ACA’s advocacy efforts, you can contact the ACA Government Affairs and Public Policy team at advocacy@counseling.org


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