By: Arati Prabhakar and Ambassador Susan E. Rice
Everyone has someone in their life who is impacted by a mental health disorder or is facing such a challenge themselves. It is the high school student whose anxiety is so debilitating they can’t focus in class. Or the new parent who is struggling to rebalance their post-partum life with a baby and returning to work. Or the children whose father has been on and off treatment for schizophrenia and who struggles to maintain housing and a job. Each problem exacerbates another. Our nation is facing a mental health crisis among people of all ages, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made these problems worse.
The Biden-Harris Administration has taken unprecedented action to address our nation’s mental health crisis. In March 2022, President Biden announced a three-part strategy to transform how we understand, access, and treat mental health in America as part of his Unity Agenda. Additionally, we provided nearly $500 million to help states transition to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, helping countless individuals get more timely access to confidential counseling and crisis care. Through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, we are awarding hundreds of millions in grants to strengthen youth and community mental health services. And, we are in the midst of building a more robust pipeline of mental health providers, expanding school-based mental health services, and training first responders how to support individuals with mental health challenges.
The actions we have taken to date are making a difference in communities across the country, but there is much more to do – and we need to know how to drive progress faster, better, and more effectively. Research and innovation are key to this challenge. We know that some tools work in some settings, but we need to figure out how to make them work everywhere and for all Americans. There are also some problems we don’t have the answers to. We need to improve how we prevent, diagnose, treat, and destigmatize mental health conditions – and research is key to doing so.
The White House Report on Mental Health Research Priorities is the first of its kind to outline an Administration-wide set of critical and timely needs and opportunities in mental health research. In releasing this report, we call upon our colleagues in government and beyond to build on these priorities and generate a new foundation of evidence to enable us all to move closer to a future where every American has access to the best available care – when and where they need it.
The White House Report on Mental Health Research Priorities can be accessed here.