Over the summer, APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee at a hearing on “High Anxiety and Stress: Legislation to Improve Mental Health During Crisis.” Following the testimony, multiple subcommittee members—including Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J.,— submitted written Questions for the Record (QFR) asking Evans to either expand on his prior testimony or offer comments on other mental or behavioral health issues. On Sept. 14, Evans submitted written responses (PDF, 269KB) to these QFRs, which covered an array of topics, including:
Responding to Congressional inquiries following testimony before House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee
APA answers written questions from members of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on health equity, suicide prevention, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health.
Mental health parity
In response to a question from Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif., Evans commended Congress’ past efforts on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act while emphasizing the need for greater enforcement of and reforms to the act to “bring the nation closer to the ideal of equal access to mental health care.”
In response to a question from Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., about closing racial and ethnic gaps in access to mental and behavioral health care, Evans reiterated the recommendations APA submitted to the Congressional Black Caucus Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health in December 2019:
- Increasing the federal investment in suicide prevention strategies tailored to Black children and adolescents.
- Expanding access and availability to child and adolescent mental health services.
- Supporting public awareness campaigns and laws to encourage safe firearms storage.
- Enacting policies to diversify the clinical and scientific behavioral workforce.
- Strengthening data collection and research into youth suicide disparities.
Chairman Pallone raised a question about the impact that the current COVID-19 pandemic has had on children’s educational development. Evans agreed that there has been a significant impact, predicting that “pre-existing educational disparities will widen in the coming years without prompt intervention [as] children from families with the resources and ability to provide support for online learning and enrichment will continue to develop to some degree, while others will likely experience learning losses that will accumulate over time.”