Secretary Besera embarks on a national tour to strengthen mental health

The Secretary will work with partners and elected officials across the country to address the nation’s mental health and behavioral health crises, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following President Joe Biden’s address on the state of the Union on Tuesday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Minister Xavier Besera launched the National Mental Health Promotion Tour in an attempt to hear directly from Americans across the country about the behavioral health challenges they face. to confront and engage with local elected officials and leaders to strengthen the mental health and crisis care system in our communities.

“The pandemic has not only affected all of us physically, but has also led to greater behavioral health challenges for all,” said Secretary Besera. From small towns to big cities, I will travel across the country with members of my leadership team to meet people who have been particularly affected and to partner with local leaders to find ways to save lives in our communities. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to deliver on our promise to build better and healthier. “

As President Biden launches a comprehensive government strategy to transform mental health services for all Americans, Secretary Becerra is leading HHS to address the mental health challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including substance use, youth mental health , and suicide. Based on the work already being done by the agency’s offices and offices, Secretary Besera and HHS leaders will embark on a concerted effort to meet the Biden-Harris administration’s priorities in addressing these challenges.

Over the next few months, Secretary Becerra will announce new initiatives and various resources provided by HHS, such as increasing the number of behavioral health professionals and workers in support of public and behavioral health in underserved and resource-poor communities, expanding pediatric care. mental health access through telehealth services and the transition to 988: The American Suicide and Crisis Line. Through meetings with partners, local leaders and elected officials across the country, the Secretary will highlight the work that HHS is doing, and will also take time to listen to and gather ideas on ways to partner with countries and communities to strengthen mental health services. health and what more the department can do.

The term ‘behavioral health’ refers to the promotion of mental health, resilience and well-being; treatment of mental disorders and substance use disorders; and the support of those who are experiencing and / or recovering from these conditions, along with their families and communities.

Preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that there were approximately 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during the 12-month period ending April 2021, an increase of 28.5 percent of the 78,056 deaths in the same period last year. To combat this crisis, Secretary Becerra announced the release of a new HHS overdose prevention strategy designed to increase access to the full range of care and services for people who use overdose substances and their families.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health challenges were common, with 1 in 5 adults experiencing mental illness in a given year. Mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life expectancy in young people, with up to 1 in 5 children aged 3 to 17 in the United States having a mental, emotional, developmental or behavioral disorder.

In addition, from 2009 to 2019, the proportion of high school students who reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40 percent, to more than 1 in every 3 students. During this period, the share of high school students who are seriously considering suicide attempts has increased by 36 percent. The pandemic has only exacerbated the mental health challenges of young people. In December 2021, the chief surgeon of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murty, issued a new advice to the chief surgeon to emphasize the urgent need to address the mental health crisis of young people in the nation.

“Our country was facing a mental health pandemic long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and it has been exacerbated by the traumatic effects of the last two years. That is why last December I issued a council to the chief surgeon for the protection of the mental health of young people – because “Political, institutional and individual changes will be needed to rework and deal with this crisis with the urgency it deserves,” said Chief Surgeon Vivek Dead. “I am grateful to Secretary Besera and the Biden-Harris administration for acknowledging this and their commitment to working with communities across the country to strengthen and protect mental health.

According to the CDC, in 2020 suicide is among the top 5 leading causes of death for people aged 10-64. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-14 and 25-34. Some groups have a higher suicide rate than others. Among the highest percentages are Native American / Alaska Native and white populations, veterans, people living in rural areas, and young adults who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

The National Mental Health Promotion Tour will also promote equity in healthcare and give priority to hearing from different voices. The secretary will travel to traditionally underserved communities and hold talks in spaces and places that do not have sufficient resources. As the Secretary directs the administration’s efforts to ensure equitable access to health care, HHS will continue to work in the department and in partnership with other agencies to eliminate behavioral health differences and invest in comprehensive treatment, early intervention, prevention and support services. for recovery for all Americans.

The Secretary also intends to bring with him a message of hope – because in the face of startling statistics, there are current prevention strategies and sustainability stories that need to be shared. For example, providing 24/7, free and confidential support to people in crisis work – numerous studies show that the existing SAMHSA-funded National Suicide Prevention Line helps thousands of people cope with crises every day. The transition to 988 in July will make it more affordable.

Photos and videos from the stops of the National Mental Health Promotion Tour will be available at:

Details of the suspension of the tour will be announced in the coming weeks and in the spring of 2022.

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