News Release: New Framework and Policy Action Guide, Healing the Nation, features Actionable Solutions to Improve Mental Health and Well Being

Healing the Nation Released: New Framework and Policy Report features Actionable Solutions to Improve Mental Health and Well Being

Washington, DC and Oakland, Calif., January 30—Today, a new framework and policy report, featuring actionable solutions to improve mental health and well-being has been released by Well Being Trust (WBT).
The report, Healing the Nation: Advancing Mental Health and Addiction Policy, notes that the cause of the mental health and well-being crisis is multifaceted. Increases in economic disparities, declines in social connectivity, increased discrimination based on race, gender, gender identity, country of origin and more, and the ever-challenging cost of health care coverage and access all play a role.
Healing the Nation provides meaningful and actionable solutions to help advance mental health policy in this country. By using a systems framework, the report outlines specific actions policy makers can take to advance mental health and structures solutions in an integrated fashion to achieve maximum benefits for all.
“The continued decline of U.S. life expectancy, largely due to overdoses and suicides, is a grim reminder that we are not doing nearly enough to address mental health and well-being in this country,” said Patrick J. Kennedy, former U.S. Representative (D-R.I.), founder of The Kennedy Forum and Mental Health for US co-chair. “The cycle must be stopped with swift action and thoughtful policies to increase access to care and save lives. Healing the Nation is a critical resource in the roadmap for lasting change.”
Included in Healing the Nation is a new Framework focusing on multiple angles for engagement with a specific emphasis on five main entry points for policy: Health Systems; Judicial Systems; Education Systems; Workplace and Unemployment; and the Whole Community. The Framework also specifically highlights populations that have been impacted differently by the mental health and addiction crisis.
“When healthy community conditions, good coverage, and inclusive policies are in place, we can achieve positive outcomes that improve the mental health and well-being of all Americans,” said Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD, chief strategy officer, WBT. “No one policy is going to solve the generational crisis we are facing – we must be thoughtful in creating more integrated and comprehensive structures for mental health, and assure that our policies bring mental health into our clinics and community settings.”
Healing the Nation includes more than 50 recommendations and action steps federal policy makers can take right now to improve mental health and well-being for all, including:

  1. The federal government should ensure that hospital payment models and quality programs incentivize assessing mental health at every interaction as a vital sign — not only during well visits. This should include integrating screening and treatment into episode-based payment models for health conditions for which there are frequent mental health comorbidities, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and pulmonary diseases.
  2. The federal government should create incentives in policy reforms that improve school culture and/or student mental health and provide additional financing for schools that implement effective strategies that reduce disparities in belonging and safety for students that identify as LGBTQ, including specialized services for suicide prevention.
  3. The federal government should make Medicaid coverage for women up to one year postpartum a mandatory eligibility category for coverage and include measures of screening and effective coordination of care for maternal behavioral health in hospital incentive programs for care transitions and quality/safety.
  4. The federal government should ensure that the Indian Health Service and Veteran’s Health Administration is engaged in the same reform efforts as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for mental health and increase funding to build capacity.
  5. The federal government should make it impermissible to use any information related to seeking mental health treatment for any aspect of immigration enforcement and provide funding to disseminate this information to immigrants and for education about the availability of mental health services as part of immigration services.
  6. The federal government should provide long-term funding for states to continue programs such as Money Follows the Person and the Balancing Incentive Program to ensure people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health conditions have consistent access to comprehensive, high-quality services and supports outside of institutional settings.
  7. The federal government should allow Medicaid funds to be used for reimbursing the education of housing authorities about the risks of housing insecurity and what resources are available to meet those needs.
  8. The federal government should create incentives in funding programs that go to municipalities that have created effective policies or strategies for ensuring access to affordable housing.
  9. The federal government should increase incentives for individuals to join the mental health workforce and for training programs to actively recruit and effectively train diverse individuals to meet underserved needs and provide more culturally competent care.
  10. The federal government should create a seed fund that supports primary care providers, especially Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Centers, in developing the necessary capacity to begin seeking sustainable reimbursement for integrated mental health care services (which could be effectively paired with parity initiatives).

“Healing the Nation offers a new vision for mental health. The framework, the solutions are there—it’s time for federal officials to act,” said Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and board chair, United States of Care.
The full report and microsite are available at (executive summary here).
Well Being Trust is a national foundation dedicated to advancing the mental, social, and spiritual health of the nation. Created to include participation from organizations across sectors and perspectives, Well Being Trust is committed to innovating and addressing the most critical mental health challenges facing America, and to transforming individual and community well-being. Twitter: @WellBeingTrust