Yesterday, President Biden announced his administration’s plans to address mental health in America. This is an historic moment for our country. Never before has an administration so clearly acknowledged and pledged to go after the spiraling crisis of mental health care.
The wide-sweeping plan covers several of the major problems in our current system, including the dramatic need to support underserved communities and addressing the severe shortage of providers. We at Cerebral embrace this plan.
Here are a few key highlights:
Expand access to tele- and virtual mental health care options.
As the pandemic raged, we saw a clear increase in demand for virtual care. Not only has the telehealth model proven to be safe and effective, it also greatly reduces barriers to accessing care. The Administration says it will support virtual care by ensuring coverage of tele-behavioral health across health plans, creating a “learning collaborative” with state insurance departments to identify, and address state-based barriers and work toward eliminating or reducing co-payments for consumers seeking tele-mental service. I applaud the administration’s dedication to advancing virtual care as it’s one key way to increase access for people who need it most.
Invest in research on new practice models.
We can’t rely on old approaches to mental health. That’s one reason we started Cerebral, as the current system as we saw it was not working. So it’s encouraging that the President’s FY23 budget calls for $5 million to research new mental health treatment models. This is badly needed, especially considering the majority of providers do not regularly record clinical outcomes, and many practices simply don’t have the infrastructure or resources to capture them. Although I believe more will be needed, it’s an indication we’re on the right path.
Integrate mental health and substance use treatment into primary care settings.
For too long, people have had little to no choice but to wait months for an appointment with a mental health care professional, only then only to be treated as just another patient. For us to truly improve care, we must make it personalized to the patient and ensure it addresses their individualized needs and preferences. The President’s plan could help make this happen, as it states it will test payment models that support the delivery of whole-person care through behavioral health integration. This is a great sign, as it could lead to higher-quality care, which leads to better outcomes.
With two out of five adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression – and more than half of parents saying they’re concerned about their child’s mental wellbeing – it’s clear that a focus on mental health is needed now more than ever. It’s also why as Founder and CEO of Cerebral, where our mission is to transform access to high-quality mental health care for all, I wholeheartedly support the administration’s actions to move mental health care into the national spotlight.
But as someone who has personally struggled with depression, this move means something more to me. It’s a hope that, as we start to take this crisis more seriously, less people will have to suffer and more people will be able to live happier, more fulfilled lives. And that’s something we can all celebrate, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or political affiliation.
If you're interested in Cerebral's mission, learn more about how we're improving access to high-quality mental health care.