Debriefing Debates, Summarizing Summits 

Yesterday, a lot of things happened in the world of politics, but two things I wanted to draw attention to here. The first was a summit hosted by the White House on mental health issues. And the second was the latest Democratic debate. 

First, the White House Mental Health Summit. While the Trump administration should be criticized for taking the wrong approach when it comes to health insurance, they should be praised for having a conversation at the White House about mental health. Having a conversation helps destigmatize the issue generally while helping elected officials work with experts to identify solutions that could work. This goes beyond just issues surrounding access to mental health care and includes housing and employment opportunities as well. Kudos to the Trump Administration for doing this. Now, if only President Trump would tone down his rhetoric and stop using mental health terms as punchlines in his insults. 

Next, we have the Democratic Debate, which took place last night. While there was a question included about opportunities for those with disabilities, and several of the candidates including Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer did a respectable job answering this question, there wasn’t nearly enough discussion of disabilities and mental health. Yes, it was brought up by Mr. Yang that there is a rise in suicides and overdoses, but not a solution to that problem. Nor was there enough follow up on that issue. Also notable was the lack of a discussion of the potential pitfalls of plans endorsed by Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar, specifically about the fact their plans could undermine a key part of mental health coverage by repealing Medicaid’s Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion, which could open the door to more involuntary institutionalizations. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a plan for it, just that it is a reality they have to address.

Obviously, in the format of a debate, or even in the format of a Mental Health Summit, it is impossible to address all the issues surrounding mental illness and identify workable solutions. Yet that doesn’t mean that it can’t be more of the conversation. Because individuals with mental illness deserve to know their elected officials are concerned about the prevalence of mental illness. Having elected officials who talk about these issues will let those of us who battle know we aren’t forgotten and will help destigmatize mental illness in general. 


P.S. My apologies to those readers from other countries for dragging you into the never-ending saga of American politics. I try to avoid politics as much as possible, but sometimes it needs to be addressed. 

P.P.S. This site’s goal is to remain as bipartisan as possible and just deliver facts about mental health policy. As such we neither endorse nor reject any candidate currently seeking office. 

P.P.P.S. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

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