According to a Sept. 16 press release, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration (Roadmap). The Roadmap, based on feedback Secretary Becerra received from patients and providers on the National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health, describes policy solutions that would help to better incorporate mental health and substance use care into the larger healthcare system and other systems.
The release says that “Armed with first-hand knowledge of the experiences of patients and providers, in May, Secretary Becerra tasked HHS’ Behavioral Health Coordinating Council with operationalizing the feedback from the tour. The result is a Roadmap that aims to ensure that the full spectrum of behavioral healthcare will be integrated into the healthcare, social service, and early childhood systems to ensure all people have equitable access to evidence-based, culturally appropriate, person-centered care.”
Further, “In addition to creating a Roadmap that serves people of all ages with all conditions, HHS has been leading major initiatives that advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of transforming the delivery of behavioral healthcare. Such initiatives include the HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy, the implementation of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Prevention Lifeline (988 Lifeline), along with linking 9-8-8 to mobile crisis services. The Roadmap builds on historic investments made by the Biden-Harris Administration, including:
- “$13 million in funding to increase access to behavioral healthcare services and address health inequities in rural America;
- $35 million to better support 988 Lifeline services in tribal communities, which face unique challenges to accessing technology and crisis services;
- $40.22 million in youth mental health grants intended to address pandemic-related stressors that have increased mental health conditions among younger Americans;
- $47.6 million in new grant opportunities for school-based mental health programs; and
- $79.1 million in overdose prevention grants to span the continuum – prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery supports.”
Secretary Becerra was quoted in the release saying that “From Wilmington, Delaware, to Seattle, Washington, and cities and towns in between, I have heard directly from Americans and their providers about our nation’s behavioral healthcare challenges—including the pervasive and persistent disparities in access that exist across the country. In order to ensure equity in access to affordable, high-quality, culturally appropriate care for mental health and substance use, we must fully integrate behavioral health into the larger healthcare system and other systems. This Roadmap provides a path for getting there.”
The release notes that as the tour continues, HHS will continue to collect feedback and implement policies that fulfill the Roadmap’s goal of behavioral healthcare being available when needed for all individuals.