One in 5 Americans experiences a mental health disorder in any given year. Yet a shortage of mental health providers leads to long waits for mental health services in communities across the United States. Meanwhile, powerful stigma remains in force, preventing many people from seeking needed treatment. Due to these and other obstacles, fewer than 4 in 10 Americans experiencing mental health problems ultimately receive help, with many ending up homeless or behind bars. Proposals to slash Medicaid, one of the nation’s largest sources of funding for mental health treatment, and to repeal the Affordable Care Act would only take the country in the wrong direction, pushing treatment further out of reach for those in need. By contrast, cities and states are leading the way on mental health. New York City first lady Chirlane McCray launched the city’s ThriveNYC initiative in 2015, laying out a bold mental health agenda for the city to bring about culture change, close treatment gaps, and strengthen community supports. And California’s Mental Health Services Act, championed by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, has revolutionized the state’s approach to mental health treatment.
Join the Center for American Progress for a discussion between Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and New York City first lady Chirlane McCray on how cities and states are championing policies to combat stigma around mental illness, improve access to mental health treatment, and move from punishment to public health.