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National Council Launches ‘Unite’ Campaign, Pushes Congress for Additional Funding to Support Treatment

September 17, 2019

The National Council for Behavioral Health on Tuesday unveiled a new mental health policy initiative during its 15th annual Hill Day event in Washington, D.C. The initiative, dubbed Unite for Behavioral Health, is geared around five objectives:

  • Expanding certified community behavioral health clinics to all 50 states from the 21 states currently served
  • Continuing to build treatment infrastructures in response to the nation’s addiction crisis, including removing barriers to medication-assisted treatment and advocating for additional funding
  • Expanding workforce development programs by collaborating with policymakers to incentivize more people to pursue careers in addiction treatment and mental health
  • Fully implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in all 50 states
  • Advocating for the expansion of the Mental Health First Aid program through increased funding at the federal and state levels for training of law enforcement, educators and other key groups

The unveiling of the Unite for Behavioral Health campaign was part of a broader series of issues discussed at National Council’s signature political advocacy event. Other topics covered at this year’s program include:

  • Increasing funding for mental health and substance use programs to help community-based providers meet demand
  • Supporting the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which increases access to buprenorphine treatment, and the Medicaid Re-entry Act, which would reinstate Medicaid eligibility for incarcerated individuals up to 30 days prior to their release
  • Pushing for the passage of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, which allows marriage and family therapists and licensed mental health counselors to bill Medicare for services

During his opening remarks to Hill Day participants on Tuesday morning, National Council president and CEO Charles Ingoglia said the number of Americans seeking mental health and substance use services is on the rise, in large part because “people understand that treatment works, treatment is effective, and recovery is possible.” Still, he said, lack of access to timely, high-quality treatment has replaced stigma as the largest barrier for those in need of mental health and addiction treatment services.

“Everyone in this room is here today because you want to fix these problems,” Ingoglia said. “We are all here for the same reason – we want to build a nation that recognizes the essential truth: There is no health without mental health. We know that recovery is possible, and it should be the expectation; not the exception.”

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