Clinton outlines plans for mental health reform

Clinton outlines plans for mental health reform
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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE is vowing to make mental health reform a top priority in her first year in office, marking a potential area of compromise with Republicans in Congress.

The Clinton campaign outlined a wide-ranging mental health agenda on Monday that would help people suffering from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia as well as to drug and alcohol addicts and struggling veterans.


In addition to expanding access to medical services and prevention, Clinton said she would prioritize training for law enforcement about “prioritizing treatment over jail.”

The opening salvo of those efforts would be a White House Conference on Mental Health in Clinton’s first year, she said. She would also coordinate national efforts like a suicide prevention campaign headed by the surgeon general, with a focus on college campuses.

Suicide is among the leading causes of death for young adults; the national rate of suicide increased about 24 percent for all ages between 1999 and 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Clinton’s campaign said the plan is aimed at “finally putting the treatment of mental health on par with that of physical health,” answering a long-time call to action by advocates.

“The next generation must grow up knowing that mental health is a key component of overall health and there is no shame, stigma, or barriers to seeking out care,” Clinton’s plan reads.

Mental health reform has long been a policy aim of the Republican-led Congress, and it stands to be a key area of compromise under a potential Clinton-controlled White House and a GOP-controlled House.

Republicans in Congress first began drafting mental health legislation in 2012 as the party’s response to the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting. That bill had been repeatedly stalled by GOP leaders until the House overwhelmingly approved a bill by longtime sponsor Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) in June. The Senate has yet to take up the legislation, though Republicans have said they hope it will be sent to Obama's desk this year.

As first lady, Clinton spoke at her own White House Conference on Mental Health in 1999, where she also discussed mental health reform as a way to help prevent mass shootings.   

One year after the deadly Columbine shootings in Littleton, Colo., Clinton said she and many people believed “there may have been signs, there may have been some way that we could have intervened and prevented,” according to a transcript of the event

“So what can we do to intervene early, before mental illness causes a child to be violent to others or, as we see increasingly, to be a victim of suicide, which is a leading cause of death of young people?”

—This post was updated 11:19 a.m.