Today, as part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Christen Linke Young, Deputy Assistant to the President for Health and Veterans Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council, convened representatives from state and local government for a Forum on Mental Health and Well Being. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and senior White House officials participated in the convening.
Tackling the mental health crisis is a key pillar of President Biden’s Unity Agenda. The Administration has focused on advancing the President’s Mental Health Strategy across its three objectives: strengthening system capacity, connecting more Americans to care, and creating healthy and supportive environments. As part of that work, the Administration has expanded access to mental health services, investing billions of dollars through the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and has proposed tens of billions in further support in his budget request for FY 2024.
During the Forum, Secretary Xavier Becerra laid out the whole-of-society response to this crisis, including the Department’s launch of 988, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, and, as well as the expansion of mental health services to support youth in schools and in communities. Senior White House staff, mayors, county elected leaders, and representatives also discussed how Medicaid waivers can be leveraged for comprehensive mental health service provision and how important investments are being made to grow and diversify the behavioral health workforce.
Senior White House staff thanked state and local leaders, and the National Governors Association (NGA), National League of Cities (NLC), and National Association of Counties (NACo) for their leadership and affirmed the Administration’s support and partnership in addressing the mental health crisis.
Participating state and local leaders in attendance included:

  • Dr. April Aycock, Director, Office of Mental Health , Monroe County, New York
  • Kathryn Barger, Supervisor, Los Angeles County, California
  • Mary Ann Borgeson, Commissioner, Douglas County, Nebraska
  • Dr. Kathleen Burke, Director, Will County Health Department, Will County, Illinois
  • Therese Brown, Commissioner, Allen County, Indiana
  • Dow Constantine, County Executive, King County, Washington
  • David Crowley, Executive, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
  • Bryan Davis, Commissioner, Scioto County, Ohio
  • Jerry Demings, County Mayor, Orange County, Florida
  • Clay Jenkins, Judge, Dallas County, Texas
  • Sherman P. Lea, Mayor & NLC Cities of Opportunity Initiative, City of Roanoke, Virginia
  • Steven Leifman, Judge, Miami Dade County, Florida
  • Dr. Gina Nikkel, Executive Director, Association of Oregon Counties
  • Hillary Schieve, Mayor & Incoming President of U.S. Conference of Mayors, City of Reno, Nevada
  • Dr. Laura Herrera Scott, Maryland Health Secretary
  • Helen Stone, Commissioner, Chatham County, Georgia
  • Steve Williams, Mayor & NLC Health Committee, City of Huntington, West Virginia
  • Denise Winfrey, National Association of Counties (NACo) President, Will County, Illinois


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