On August 29, Hillary Clinton released a plan to integrate a stronger mental health system within the US. According to Clinton’s website, the plan consists of six main points containing specific plans for implementation. She also pledges to hold a White House conference on psychological health if elected president.
Debates between Clinton and Trump have dominated the media this election, and some argue that policy issues such as the mental health plan have been lost in the chaos.
The plan prioritizes six main goals: prevention, community treatment, treatment options over punishment, equality in mental health, housing and job access and psychiatric research. Each goal contains specific applications and examples.
A major part of Clinton’s plan emphasizes mental illness within schools and contains specific goals to ensure education along with mental health care for young people.
“Last year, for concussion baseline, testing we took a survey and I scored an 18/21 on the anxiety portion,” an anonymous CHS student said. “All of my anxiety [comes] from school work and grades.”
Such concerns within CHS are part of a bigger issue: “17 percent [of high schoolers] considered attempting suicide in the last year, with 8 percent actually attempting it,” said Clinton’s campaign website.
Mental Health America’s website ranks North Carolina as the eighteenth best state for adult mental well-being. But this number falls to 36th for NC’s youth population.
The candidate’s plan specifies the need for students of color and LGBT students to receive care. Since they often go without proper psychological help, these pupils are at a higher risk for suicide than others.
Clinton aims to teach future generations about the importance of mental health and prevent mental illness early to lessen the need for aid. This includes a suicide prevention initiative, which specifically targets suicide in high school and college.
Planning to work with the Department of Education to further mental health education in schools, Clinton emphasizes the importance of suicide prevention early on. “Hillary will direct the Department of Education to emphasize mental health literacy in middle and high schools…” said Clinton’s website. “[She] will work with regional and national PTA, school counselor associations, and associations of secondary school principals to encourage school districts to adopt this model policy.”
Another major part of Clinton’s new policy is enforcing clinical treatment for offenders with mental disorders. She proposes a plan to educate police officers in mental illness response, as well as to prioritize help for non-violent lawbreakers rather than punish them.
According to Clinton’s site, over 50 percent of convicts have mental health issues. Even more convicts fit the medical standards for addiction. She intends to lower these statistics by reducing mental disorders and the number of non-violent incarcerations.
Although this new agenda is barely spoken about, it could have a major impact on the lives of mentally ill people and the future of the criminal justice system.
Clinton addresses her supporters at her rally. Photo courtesy news-photos-features.com.