Bill needed to fund mental health care

Chicago has struggled with access to mental health care since before the pandemic, which was exacerbated by COVID-19 hitting Chicago early and hard. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this year millions more Americans are struggling with a mental illness. Trauma such as death of loved ones, social isolation and job loss have contributed to a dramatic rise in mental health crises.

In June 2020, a CDC report noted that approximately 40% of adults in the United States were struggling with mental health, substance use, and/or suicidal ideation. Staggeringly, youth suicides are at a 20-year high. Additionally, a report in the Lancet showed COVID-19 infection may result in a post-viral syndrome that resembles depression. Simultaneously, the pandemic inhibited access to mental health treatment at a time when it is more crucial than ever. Yet prior to the pandemic, nearly 6 in 10 people with mental illness received no treatment or medication according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Worse yet, fewer than 1 in 5 people with substance use disorder are treated according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The bipartisan Stopping the Mental Health Pandemic (H.R. 588) bill, which is currently in the Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health, would address the current mental health crisis with 24/7 call centers and mobile crisis units in areas like Chicago that were hit hard by the pandemic. It also funds the training of mental and behavioral health professionals to enhance treatment and prevention capacity in areas critically understaffed, which will expand access even after the mental health crisis driven by the pandemic has subsided. Contact your senators and representative and encourage them to pass H.R. 588 today.

Marsha Pierce

Downers Grove

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