Joe Biden

Readout of White House Meeting with State Legislative Leaders on Mental Health Legislation

September 30, 2022

In recognition of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, officials from the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Domestic Policy Council, and the Department of Health and Human Services chaired a meeting today with bipartisan state legislative leaders on efforts to address the mental health crisis and advance access to mental health and substance use care.

Suicide remains a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 45,000 individuals in 2020. The Biden-Harris Administration has invested unprecedented resources in improving suicide prevention and care, and in providing Americans the support, resources, and care they need to safeguard and strengthen their mental health. In May 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration released a comprehensive strategy to address the national mental health crisis. This strategy includes supporting the launch of the "988" crisis response line to strengthen community-based crisis response, training and recruiting a diverse pipeline of behavioral health professionals, investing in prevention and research, and building the capacity of long-term care facilities to deliver behavioral health care. The Biden Administration has invested $432 million – an 18-fold increase in federal support – to help states prepare for the transition to 988, providing critical resources to help ensure access to trained crisis counselors via phone, chat, and text.

In the meeting, state legislative leaders discussed steps they are taking to address the mental health crisis, including funding for "988" services which depend on state support for call centers and follow-on behavioral health crisis services. Legislators also shared their efforts to address mental health workforce shortages, increase accessibility of in-person and telehealth services, and ensure that individuals in the criminal justice system have access to behavioral health services. Senior White House Officials thanked the leaders for their efforts and ongoing partnership with the White House.

State legislative leaders included:

  1. Delaware House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D)
  2. Pennsylvania House Minority Caucus Administrator Michael Schlossberg (D)
  3. California Assembly Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D)
  4. Alabama State Representative Matt Simpson (R)
  5. Colorado State Representative Mary Young (D)
  6. Colorado State Senator Christopher Kolker (D)
  7. Florida State Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D)
  8. Illinois State Senator Laura Fine (D)
  9. Maryland State Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D)
  10. Massachusetts State Representative Marjorie Decker (D)
  11. North Carolina State Senator Jim Burgin (R)
  12. Utah State Senator Daniel Thatcher (R)
  13. Vermont State Representative Lori Houghton (D)
  14. Washington State Representative Lauren Davis (D)
  15. Washington State Senator Twina Nobles (D)

Joseph R. Biden, Readout of White House Meeting with State Legislative Leaders on Mental Health Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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