The American Counseling Association (ACA) commends Hillary Clinton for putting mental health policy at the forefront of our national agenda.
As the need for access to professional mental health care continues to grow, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton released a robust mental health plan. Her recommendations clearly address ways to support the more than 40 million Americans coping with mental health concerns.
The plan includes:
- Suicide prevention initiatives to be overseen by the Surgeon General;
- Increased training for police officers, due to studies that show those with mental illnesses are 16 times more likely to have a deadly encounter with police officers;
- Better mental health care for non-violent offenders to help ward off recidivism;
- Expansion of reimbursement structures in Medicare and Medicaid;
- Enforcement of the Mental Health Parity Act; and
- Improved research to develop better behavioral treatments.
Clinton's position that the integration of mental and physical health care systems needs to be a national priority is something ACA stands strongly behind.
ACA’s members are also keenly aware, as Secretary Clinton points out, that access to professional mental health care providers is lacking. We sincerely hope that Clinton and her team realize the critical gap that licensed professional counselors stand ready and able to fill regarding this access.
“We need federal, state and private funding systems and sources in place to ensure that licensed professional counselors can play a role in building that robust network of mental health care,” said Art Terrazas, Director of Government Affairs at ACA.
Counselors are uniquely qualified to help expand upon the early diagnosis/intervention emphasis of Clinton’s plan, in addition to providing the professional services necessary to meet the mental health needs of at-risk populations including LBGTQ youth, veterans, and seniors.
“Counselors are trained to empower individuals from all walks of life in order to address and proactively manage mental health concerns and prevent illnesses. This level of human connection is absolutely essential to making a real difference in the state of mental health care in this country,” said David Kaplan, Chief Professional Officer at ACA.
One important initiative left out of Secretary Clinton’s plan is to increase the ratio of school counselors to students in public schools. “ACA recommends a 250 to 1 ratio and the current national average is 471 to 1. In some states it is even as high as 1,000 students. We have always recommended that it be reexamined, due to the fact that one out of ten adolescents are purported to have mental health issues in their formative years, said Terrazas.”
ACA is hopeful that Secretary Clinton’s plan will mark the beginning of a serious and rigorous debate on the critical issue of mental health care during the upcoming Presidential election. “We are looking forward to evaluating Mr. Trump’s proposals on how to increase access to mental health care in the U.S., so it is aligned with the clear need this country is facing,” added Terrazas.
Read more about Secretary Clinton's plan here.