Testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS-Ed), APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, called on Congress to take a population health approach to address the mental health and substance use crisis over the long and short term (PDF, 261KB). APA’s recent Council policy resolution Psychology’s Understanding of the Challenges Related to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic in the United States (PDF, 256KB) informed his testimony.

His recommendations to Congress included:

  1. Supporting prevention strategies that emphasize early intervention and strengthen communities to address psychosocial factors as part of an overall behavioral health treatment strategy;
  2. Increasing funding for programs to strengthen school-based mental health services, social and emotional learning programs, and trauma-informed practices;
  3. Permanently authorizing Medicare to cover audio-only telehealth for mental, behavioral, and substance use disorder services;
  4. Investing in critical mental health workforce programs to address shortages; 
  5. Expanding research in social and behavioral science at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

View Evans’s testimony before the LHHS-Ed Subcommittee.

Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and other subcommittee members raised several additional questions related to crisis intervention services, mental health disparities, access to school-based mental health services, rural mental health shortages, and systemic changes needed to advance the integration of mental and physical health care.

As Congress prepares to draft Fiscal Year 2022 funding bills, Evans recommended continued federal investments in prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies that allow states and communities flexibility to customize their approaches to the ongoing mental health and substance use crisis and to address the increase in other negative behavior changes, such as drinking or undesired weight gain, identified in APA’s February 2021 Stress in America poll.

For more information, contact Karen Studwell.