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Health equity

Advancing mental health equity and youth suicide prevention legislation

APA calls for Senate action on bipartisan legislation.

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American Psychological Association. (2021, May 11). Advancing mental health equity and youth suicide prevention legislation.

On May 11, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 1475, the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act (PDF, 267KB). This bipartisan legislation aims to address disparities in mental health care among underserved and high-poverty communities. It would authorize $805 million in grants and other funding to support research, improve the pipeline of culturally competent providers, build outreach programs that reduce stigma, and develop a training program for providers to effectively manage disparities. More than 50 organizations joined APA in endorsing the bill (PDF, 171KB).

“The American Psychological Association commends Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman for her commitment to disrupting long-standing mental health inequities affecting communities of color,” said American Psychological Association President Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD. “The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated, more than ever, the breadth of these disparities and the toll on the mental health of Americans. APA calls on Congress to swiftly enact the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act to help provide equitable access to needed care to stem the growing mental health crisis.”

Lawmakers adopted the bill as part of a package of legislation responding to critical mental health needs in communities, including strengthening suicide prevention efforts and authorizing grants for school-based mental health services. The bill now moves to the Senate where APA will work to build bipartisan support toward passage.

The Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act is endorsed by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Trevor Project, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health America, Sandy Hook Promise, the American Association of Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, the Jed Foundation, and the Mental Wealth Alliance.

For more information, contact Leo Rennie, MPA.

Update: On May 24, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), introduced the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act (PDF, 40KB), the companion to the bill introduced in the House of Representatives. Menendez highlighted provisions that expand minority mental health access by supporting scientific research and increasing funding for existing federal programs.