PCC's Better Health NOW Campaign Backs Key Provisions in Senate Mental Health Bill

On December 8th, the Primary Care Collaborative and its Better Health - NOW Campaign backed key elements of draft Senate Finance mental health integration and workforce proposals.

In the U.S. today, the specialty behavioral health delivery system is overwhelmed by increasing suicide rates, accelerating rates of substance use disorder deaths, and a tripling in the prevalence of depressive symptoms since the beginning of the pandemic. Moreover, noted disparities in mental health by age, rurality, and economic circumstances exist alongside other alarming trends by racial/ethnic group. In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black individuals aged 14-24.

Contributing factors to suicide among Blacks may include untreated mental illness and continued exposure to violent crime, violence, and accumulated trauma. Suicide rates are higher for American Indian/Alaska Native populations compared to other racial groups, and those rates have increased since 2010. In another dimension of the crisis, age-adjusted rates of drug-induced deaths among the Black population not only matched but exceeded rates among the white population in 2019, after a decade in which those rates had been largely lower than whites.

Leveraging team-based primary care that includes behavioral health integration is fundamental to addressing today’s mental health and addiction crises and the nation’s future health. Today, more mental health care is rendered in the primary care setting than anywhere else, including the mental health care sector, continuing a trend that has existed for four decades.

Therefore, we applaud the Finance Committee’s bipartisan work toward a comprehensive response to America’s behavioral health crises and support the provisions identified here.

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