STATE OF THE UNION: National MH Strategy
Note from National Council

March 1, 2022

Here’s a note I received this evening from our colleagues at the National Council for Well Being:

In his State of the Union speech tonight, President Biden will announce a National Mental Health Strategy. This strategy will be part of the Biden Administration’s budget proposal which will include the following –

  • Expand the availability of evidence-based community mental health services. The American Rescue Plan invested millions of dollars to expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), a proven model of care that has been shown to improve health outcomes while lowering costs, by delivering 24/7 mental health and substance use care to millions of Americans, no matter who they are or whether they’re able to pay. The President’s FY23 budget will build on this down payment, by proposing to make this program permanent while granting states funding to expand CCBHCs for the communities that need them most. The President’s budget will also permanently extend funding for Community Mental Health Centers, which provide essential mental health services to vulnerable communities that would otherwise lack access.

Other key elements in the strategy will include: 

Strengthen System Capacity

  • Invest $700 million in programs that bring providers in behavioral health including National Health Service Corps, Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program, and the Minority Fellowship Program 
  • Pilot new approaches to train a diverse group of paraprofessionals including a new proposal for a multi-year program to develop provider capacity. 
  • Build a national certification program for peer specialists 
  • Expand CCBHCs 

Connect to Care

  • Strengthen parity by proposing health plans cover 3 behavioral health visits annually without cost-sharing 
  • Integrate MH and SUD into primary care settings by testing payment models and authorize Medicaid reimbursements of inter-professional consultations
  • Expand access to tele- and virtual mental health care options by establishing a learning collaborative with state insurance depts to identify and address state-based barriers 
  • Expand access to mental health support in schools and colleges by proposing $1 billion in FY23 budget to help schools hire additional counselors and other health professionals 

Creating Healthy Environments

  • Strengthen children’s privacy and ban targeted advertising for children online 
  • Invest in research on social media’s mental harms
  • Expand early childhood and school-based intervention services and supports  
  • Increase mental health resources for justice-involved populations by expanding funding for the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to local communities and corrections systems for care, case management, and other transitional programming

As usual caveats apply, including how much of this work requires congressional appropriation and authorization.

This initiative, however, is a significant and historic commitment to mental health and substance use treatment in an address that will feature many other priorities.  

This effort should also help with our advocacy with Congress to move the CCBHC provisions this year. 

We will continue to work hard for you and appreciate all of your support.