Buttigieg unveils plan to strengthen mental health care, fight addiction

Buttigieg unveils plan to strengthen mental health care, fight addiction
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South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul Buttigieg2020 Democrats defend climate priorities in MSNBC forum MSNBC Climate Change Forum draws 1.3M viewers in 8 pm timeslot Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats MORE, a Democratic presidential hopeful, on Friday released a new plan to bolster mental health care and combat addiction.

“For years, politicians in Washington have claimed to prioritize mental health care while slashing funding for treatment and ignoring America’s growing addiction and mental health crisis,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “That neglect must end. Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal.”

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The plan calls for imposing penalties on insurance companies if they do not provide coverage for mental illness and addiction, as well as expanding access to treatment to opioid addictions, and decriminalizing mental illness and addiction through re-entry programs.

Buttigieg would also establish $10 billion in annual “Healing and Belonging” grants in an effort to give communities resources to combat mental health and addiction issues, in addition to the creation of a Community Health Corps.

If elected president, Buttigieg said that he would require "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses," as well as combat loneliness and social isolation through a national campaign.

His campaign said that strategy will ensure that 75 percent of people who need mental health care and addiction services receive the proper care, in addition to preventing 1 million deaths due to drugs, alcohol and suicide by 2028.

The plan would also decrease the number of people incarcerated due to mental illness and substance abuse, according to the campaign.

The announcement comes before Buttigieg will campaign in New Hampshire, which has been hit hard by the opioid crisis.

Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) released her own plan to improve mental health care while combating the opioid crisis earlier this week during a campaign swing through New Hampshire.