Clinton Calls for Mental Health Workers to Be Trained in ‘Cultural Competency’

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Clinton Calls for Mental Health Workers to Be Trained in ‘Cultural Competency’

Ally Boguhn

Clinton’s agenda includes an effort to bolster "public awareness and take action to address maternal depression, infant mental health, and trauma and stress in the lives of young children.”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign released an agenda Monday to address the needs of the millions of Americans living with mental illness and mental health problems. The plan includes initiatives designed to support college students of color and campus LGBTQ communities. 

Nearly one in five adults in America, or roughly 43.8 million people, experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness.

Clinton has introduced a six-pronged plan seeking to push early detection and intervention, integrate mental and physical health-care systems, address mental health in the criminal justice system, enforce mental health parity, improve access to housing and employment for those with mental health problems, and invest in related research.

Clinton would seek to create a national initiative for suicide prevention through a cross-government initiative led by the U.S. surgeon general. The platform calls for federal support for suicide prevention on college campuses, and for the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to work with colleges to address the mental health needs of students of color and LGBTQ students.

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The Clinton plan calls for mental health professionals to be trained in “cultural competency,” though details were scant. The Indian Health Service is to be included in a cross-governmental initiative to fix the shortage of mental health-care providers, per the Clinton agenda. 

Clinton would launch her efforts by convening a White House Conference on Mental Health during her first year in office with the goal of ensuring U.S. citizens “no longer separate mental health from physical health when it comes to access to care or quality of treatment” by the end of her time in office. 

“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,” the agenda reads.

Among the proposals featured in Clinton’s agenda is an effort to bolster “public awareness and take action to address maternal depression, infant mental health, and trauma and stress in the lives of young children.”

She would seek to “build on” Medicaid screenings for maternal depression and infant mental health in hopes of making the practice a Medicaid standard.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended in January that the general population—and pregnant and postpartum women in particular—receive screenings for depression.

Working to improve outcomes for those with mental illness who interact with the criminal justice system is another key facet of the former secretary of state’s plan. Recognizing that more than half of all prison and jail inmates have had a mental health problem, Clinton’s plan would give additional resources to law enforcement to handle crisis intervention and prioritize offering low-level and non-violent offenders treatment “over punishment.”

Clinton would also seek to offer better mental health services to those who are incarcerated.

Clinton’s agenda details how, if elected, the candidate would seek a $5 billion investment in community health centers across the country, and create an initiative between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Health and Human Services to create “supportive housing opportunities for thousands of people with mental illnesses and disabilities.”

“Americans with mental health conditions and their families need our support,” said the campaign’s fact sheet on the agenda. “Too many Americans are being left to face mental health problems on their own, and too many individuals are dying prematurely from associated health conditions. We must do better.”