- President Joe Biden unveiled elements of his administration’s strategy to address the national mental health crisis during his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress on March 1.
- He called on Congress to hold tech companies accountable for the mental health impacts of social media on children.
- Much of the strategy will build on The American Rescue Plan through additional financial investments that allow for expanded access to mental health care.
During his first State of the Union speech, President Joe Biden introduced his administration’s strategy to address the national mental health crisis and called on Congress to help.
The portion of the address before Congress on March 1 devoted to mental health was brief, lasting about 5 minutes, and touched on four points.
- the opioid epidemic
- mental health in kids
- access to mental health care for all Americans
- supporting veterans
These four points are part of a broader strategy the administration hopes will improve the way mental health is understood and treated.
In addition to speaking about mental health, Biden reaffirmed his support for the LGBTQ+ community and spoke out against what he called “the onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families.” He urged Congress to pass the Equality Act.
In response to the opioid epidemic, Biden called for increased funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery, saying that those living with addiction are not alone.
“I celebrate the 23 million Americans in recovery,” he said.
Biden took aim at social media companies, claiming these tech giants have exacerbated mental health issues brought on by social isolation due to the pandemic.
He called on Congress to strengthen privacy protections by banning targeted advertising to children and demanding tech companies stop collecting personal data from children.
“We must hold social media companies accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit,” the president said. “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections.”
The State of the Union speech also addressed the need for expanding access to mental health care for all Americans.
“Let’s get all Americans the mental health services they need. More people they can turn for help and full parity between physical and mental health care,” Biden said.
The president’s fiscal year budget for 2023 will propose that all health plans cover mental health services with an adequate provider network, including three visits each year with no cost-sharing. It will also offer double funding for programs that integrate physical health and mental health.
“I’ve always believed we have a sacred obligation to equip those when they go to war and care for those and their families when they come home,” the president said.
The administration’s plan aims to close the mental health care disparity among veterans by improving integration services through the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow easier access to same-day mental health care.
Much of the Biden administration’s strategy to address the national mental health crisis will build on The American Rescue Plan, the 2021 bill passed to provide additional relief from the impact of COVID-19, with additional financial investments to expand access to mental health services.
The president is calling on Congress to pass legislation that will create stronger online protections for children and young people, such as banning excessive data sharing and targeted advertising and prioritizing safety and well-being over profit and revenue.