Secretary Becerra Kicks Off National Tour To Strengthen Mental Health

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

Following President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra kicked off the nationwide tour to strengthen mental health in an effort to hear directly from Americans across the country. the behavioral health challenges facing and engaging with elected local officials and leaders to strengthen the mental health and crisis care system in our communities.

“The pandemic has not only put a strain on all of us, it has also resulted in greater behavioral health challenges for all,” said Secretary Becerra. “From small towns to big cities, I will travel nationwide with members of my leadership team to meet the people who have been particularly affected and will work with local leaders to find ways to save lives in our communities. The Biden-Harris L ‘administration will continue to deliver on our promise to rebuild in a better and healthier way. “

As President Biden launches a government-wide 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. Building on the work that the Department’s agencies and offices have already done, Secretary Becerra and HHS leaders will embark on a concerted effort to realize the Biden-Harris administration’s priorities to address these challenges.

Over the next few months, Secretary Becerra will make announcements about new initiatives and various resources provided by HHS, such as increasing the number of behavioral health professionals and community health and behavioral health support workers in underserved and underserved communities, expanding pediatric mental health care access through telemedicine services and the transition to 988: America’s Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Through meetings with partners, local leaders and elected officials across the country, the Secretary will highlight the work done by HHS and will also take time to listen and gather ideas on how to partner with states and communities to strengthen the services of mental health and what else the Department can do.

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

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

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health problems were common, with 1 in 5 adults suffering from a mental illness in any given year. Mental health problems have been the leading cause of disability and poor living outcomes in young people, with up to 1 in 5 children aged 3-17 in the United States suffering from a mental, emotional, developmental disorder or behavioral.

In addition, from 2009 to 2019, the share of high school students who reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40%, reaching more than 1 in 3 students. The share of high school students who took seriously Consideration of attempting suicide increased during this period, by 36%. The pandemic has only exacerbated the mental health challenges of young people. In December 2021, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a new Surgeon General Consultation to highlight the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis.

“Our country faced a mental health pandemic long before the COVID-19 pandemic started, and it has been exacerbated by the traumatic effects of the past two years. That’s why, last December, I issued a consultation from the surgeon general. on protecting the mental health of young people, because it will take political, institutional and individual changes alike to reformulate and address this crisis with the urgency it deserves, “said surgeon general Vivek Murthy. “I am grateful to Secretary Becerra and the Biden-Harris administration for recognizing this and for their commitment to work with communities across the country to strengthen and protect mental health.”

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

The nationwide tour to strengthen mental health will also promote health equity and prioritize hearing from different voices. The Secretary will travel to traditionally disadvantaged communities and hold conversations in spaces and places with insufficient resources. As the Secretary leads the administration’s efforts to ensure equitable access to health care, HHS will continue to work across the Department and in partnership with other agencies to bridge behavioral health disparities and invest in comprehensive treatment services. early intervention, prevention and recovery for all Americans.

The Secretary also intends to carry with him a message of hope, because in the face of surprising statistics, there are prevention strategies that work and stories of resilience to share. For example, providing free, confidential 24/7 support to people in crisis works: Numerous studies have shown that the existing national SAMHSA-funded suicide prevention lifeline helps thousands of people overcome situations of crisis every day. Switching to 988 in July will make it more accessible.

Photos and videos from the stages of the National Mental Health Strengthening Tour will be available at:

Tour stop details will be announced in the coming weeks and throughout Spring 2022.

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