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Past Event

Addressing the national mental health crisis: Opportunities and challenges

Co-hosted by the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy and The Commonwealth Fund

Past Event

In his March 1 State of the Union address, President Biden laid out a vision to transform how mental health is understood, accessed, treated, and integrated into our broader health and social services systems. He emphasized that “mental health is health” and urged the nation to continue fighting for access to quality medical care and support for those living with mental illness. His remarks underscore the barriers to high-quality care present in our current treatment system, especially for those from disadvantaged communities. Despite long-standing requirements for parity with physical health benefits, lack of robust coverage and a shortage of mental health care providers make it very difficult for individuals to access care when and where they need it.

President Biden shared strategies to address what he termed “the national mental health crisis” as a part of his unity agenda, a set of policies that have received support from both sides of the aisle. Specifically, the president’s strategy aims to strengthen system capacity, connect more Americans to care, and create a continuum of support—transforming our health and social services infrastructure to address mental health holistically and equitably.

On Wednesday, April 6, the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy hosted a discussion of President Biden’s strategy and the work mental health organizations and advocates are doing on the ground. Ambassador Susan Rice, the domestic policy advisor at the White House, opened with remarks, followed by a short interview of Ambassador Rice by David Blumenthal, the president of the Commonwealth Fund. The event then concluded with a panel discussion among mental health experts, including deputy assistant to the president for health and veterans affairs Christen Linke Young; community leaders; and advocates moderated by Richard Frank, director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.

Viewers submitted questions for panelists by emailing or via Twitter with #MentalHealthIsHealth.


Welcome and introduction

Keynote remarks and Q&A

Keynote remarks will be followed by a brief interview with president of The Commonwealth Fund David Blumenthal.

Panel discussion

Kenna Chic

Former President - Project Lighthouse, Georgetown University

Christen Linke Young

Deputy Assistant to the President for Health and Veterans Affairs - Domestic Policy Council for Health and Veterans

Former Fellow - USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy

Ruth Shim

Luke & Grace Kim Professor in Cultural Psychiatry - University of California, Davis School of Medicine

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