Opinion: Congress Must Invest in Mental Health and Substance Use Care Infrastructure
The nation’s infrastructure is about more than roads and bridges, broadband and renewable energy. At the most fundamental level, infrastructure literally begins with — and depends on — people. And when it comes to mental health and substance use disorders, our human infrastructure was vulnerable and struggling before COVID-19, and it has taken a battering during the pandemic. ... As Congress and the Administration continue to negotiate the scope of an infrastructure bill, the Coalition for Whole Health, a national coalition of organizations working to improve coverage for and access to mental health and substance use disorder care, urges swift and decisive action in four key areas that will help people, families, communities and our nation to become healthier and stronger in the wake of the pandemic.
Strengthen and expand the nation’s mental health/substance use disorder workforce by investing in educational and training opportunities for mental health/substance use disorder workforce professionals, career development and loan forgiveness within both fields while intentionally building a diverse and culturally and linguistically effective workforce.
Invest in the digital mental health/substance use disorder infrastructure to support the continuation and expansion of tele-behavioral health services and electronic health information exchange as well as equitable access to the technology infrastructure for underserved individuals and communities.
Build capacity to expand access to comprehensive care by significantly expanding federal investment in the community-based system of mental health and substance use disorder care while prioritizing health and recovery over punishment and incarceration.
Expand affordable stable housing opportunities and enforce anti-discrimination protections, which together are some of the most important factors in successful reentry from incarceration and sustained health for people with mental health and substance use disorder histories. Read more