Story at a glance

  • Kamala Harris is emphasizing mental health care as a priority.
  • Her plan promises greater access to mental health professionals and programs.
  • Highlights of her plan include increasing beds in treatment facilities as well as providing virtual access for immediate care from anywhere.

This past Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris spoke hopefully about her plan to address mental health, and it would start with increased access. Highlights of the plan include doubling the number of treatment beds available, per an Associated Press report. 

At a campaign event in South Carolina, Harris was joined by popular radio host Charlamagne Tha God and state Rep. JA Moore. During a panel discussion chronicled by the Post and Courier, Harris addressed the pipeline she observed between undiagnosed and untreated mental illness and prison or jail. She elaborated that, “We’re failing to address it and then where we do address it is in the criminal justice system. We have basically turned jails and prisons into these gigantic mental health facilities without any mental health treatment.” 

The presidential candidate’s solution is to expand the existing Medicare system to cover mental health expenditures and substance abuse treatment as well, including telehealth with professionals for on-demand care. 

Additionally, Harris wants to increase healthcare funding for multiple institutions, specifically giving $100 million to Native American communities to combat widespread mental health issues, as well as increased research funds for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder and to improve treatment. 

Harris’s plan will also forgo deductibles and copays, and also features a loan forgiveness program for mental health professionals who opt to work in areas with less providers. The plan tracks with her proposed Medicare for All system, which includes the option for state-provided care or for private insurance. 

Published on Nov 26, 2019