Congress Continues to Hint at Upcoming Mental Health Package

On April 5, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health met to discuss legislation to support American mental health and well-being. The hearing, overseen by Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-KY), is one of many Congressional hearings held in the past few months focused on potential policy solutions related to mental health (see previous coverage for more details). The hearing included two panels of experts. The first panel featured Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, and Administrator at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Carole Johnson. The second panel included the President-Elect of the American Psychiatric Association Dr. Rebecca W. Brendel, the President-Elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Sandy L. Chung, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Director at the Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing at Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Children’s Health Dr. Steven Adelsheim, Medical Director of Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Debra Pinals, Director of the Office of Addictive Diseases at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Cassandra Price, and Peer Support Specialist Instructor and Mentor LeVail W. Smith.

Subcommittee Chair Eshoo focused her opening statement on the devastating increase in mental health concerns in the U.S. and expressed particular concern for American youths experiencing mental illnesses. Ranking Member Guthrie focused his opening statement on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in exacerbating the mental health crisis in the U.S. and issues affecting rural Americans. The witness opening statements focused on what their respective agencies are doing to address these issues and ways in which the Subcommittee can continue to support their missions. Many of the Subcommittee members’ questions for the witnesses revolved around how to best support marginalized groups and pregnant individuals, how the President’s Budget Request was received by the federal agencies (see related article), and progress on SAMHSA’s National Helpline for mental health crises. Throughout the hearing, Chairwoman Eshoo and various members of the committee expressed their support for bipartisan federal legislation aimed at addressing the mental health crisis. A recording of the hearing can be found on the Committee website.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s Spring Intern Sofi Cavenaile of the University of Texas, San Antonio.


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