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Children's health and development

APA testifies before Senate HELP Committee on the growing mental health and substance use crisis

APA’s chief science officer testifies on the need for investment in mental health to address crisis.

Cite this
American Psychological Association. (2022, February 1). APA testifies before Senate HELP Committee on the growing mental health and substance use crisis.

APA Chief Science Officer Mitch Prinstein, PhD, and the U.S. Capitol

On February 1, APA Chief Science Officer Mitch Prinstein, PhD, testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at a hearing titled “Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Responding to the Growing Crisis.” APA called for a $1 billion investment in youth mental health research. In addition, Prinstein asked Congress to strengthen existing programs and develop new policies to solve the growing mental health crisis in six areas:

Strengthening the mental and behavioral health workforce 

  • Pass the Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Repayment Act (S. 1578).
  • Reauthorize programs administered by Health Resources & Services Administration and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, including Graduate Psychology Education, Minority Fellowship Program, Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training, Integrated Substance Use Disorder Training Program.

Improving access to mental health care for children and youth 

  • Reauthorize:
    • Pediatric mental health programs that support children with serious emotional disturbance.
    • The Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Grants program.
    • Campus suicide prevention programs under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act.
  • Consider:
    • The Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act (S.1795).
    • The Higher Education Mental Health Act (S. 3048).
  • Pass:
    • The Mental Health Services for Students Act (S. 1841).
    • The Comprehensive Mental Health in Schools Pilot Program Act (S. 2730).
    • The Increasing Access to Mental Health in Schools Act (S. 1811).

Promoting integration of primary care and behavioral health 

  • Provide federal financial and technical assistance to aid in the expansion of integrated primary and behavioral care services provided through use of evidence-based models including the Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) model and Collaborative Care (CoCM) model.

Continuing evidence-based mental health programs 

Ensuring parity for behavioral and physical health care 

  • Enact legislative language included in the House-passed Build Back Better Act to strengthen Department of Labor’s enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).
  • Enact legislation to close the loophole that allows self-funded nonfederal government-sponsored health plans to opt out of complying with MHPAEA.
  • Enact the Parity Implementation Assistance Act (S. 1962).

Review the No Surprises Act

  • Investigate the disproportionate impact of the Interim Final Rules issued last year under the No Surprises Act on mental and behavioral health providers.

Read APA’s full testimony (PDF, 328KB).

A full recording of the hearing is available on the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Responding to the Growing Crisis webpage.

Prior to the hearing, Prinstein wrote an op-ed for The Hill asking policymakers to “make a serious commitment to youth mental health” to address the current mental health crisis. Prinstein highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and youth and the need to improve access to mental health care and strengthen the mental health workforce. He also called attention to the U.S. surgeon general’s recent advisory detailing the alarming increase in adolescent mental health issues (PDF, 1.01MB).

For more information, contact Corbin Evans.