March 02, 2022

ICYMI: President Biden Addresses Mental Health Crisis in State of the Union Address, Includes Several Cárdenas Bills and Legislative Proposals

WASHINGTON, DC — Last night, during his first State of the Union address, President Joe Biden laid out a strategy to address our national mental health crisis as part of his Unity Agenda. Included in the President’s agenda were many of Congressman Tony Cárdenas’ (CA-29) legislative proposals and legislative priorities to tackle the mental health crisis, improve emergency response, bolster community and telehealth services and expand access to mental health support in schools.

“President Biden has made it clear last night that addressing the mental health and substance abuse crisis is among his top priorities,” said Congressman Cárdenas. “I was thrilled to hear that many of my legislative proposals were included in the president’s agenda – from 988 lifeline implementation to support services for our children. Now that the president has laid his vision for mental health support and crisis response, it’s time for Congress to get to work and make this a reality.”

“Let’s take on mental health. Especially among our children, whose lives and education have been turned upside down,” said President Biden in his speech. “Children were also struggling before the pandemic. Bullying, violence, trauma and the harms of social media. It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children. And let’s get all Americans the mental health services they need. More people they can turn to for help, and full parity between physical and mental health care.”

Cárdenas bills and proposals included in Biden’s mental health strategy:

  • Launch the “988” crisis response line and strengthen community-based crisis response: Cárdenas is leading the charge on providing support for the 988 crisis response line. As part of this effort, he will be introducing the 988 Implementation Act, which would provide support across the continuum of crisis response and care.
  • Invest in proven programs that bring providers into behavioral health: Cárdenas has included language in his 988 Implementation Act that would support several behavioral health workforce training programs.
  • Pilot new approaches to train a diverse group of paraprofessionals and build a national certification program for peer specialists: Cárdenas has included language in his 988 Implementation Act that would expand the federal support of peer specialists and paraprofessionals in crisis services.
  • Expand the availability of evidence-based community mental health services: Cárdenas has included language in his 988 Implementation Act that would authorize Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHCs) for any state that wishes to opt-in. These clinics are a crucial resource in providing crisis services, but only ten states get funded for them, including California. Last October, Cárdenas introduced the Behavioral Health Crisis Services Expansion Act, expanding access to crisis care for American families.
  • Expand and strengthen parity: Cárdenas has been a leader in efforts to enforce the federal laws around mental health parity. His bill, the Parity Implementation Assistance Act (H.R. 3753) would support state parity enforcement by providing grants to states to assist with implementation of federal requirements.  
  • Expand access to mental health support in schools and colleges and universities:  Cárdenas has led several bills to improve youth access to mental health resources. This includes the Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Act of 2021 (H.R. 1803), which would allow schools and school districts to receive direct support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Additionally, Rep. Cárdenas has previously introduced the Strengthening Behavioral Health Supports for Schools Act, which would establish a Center for School Behavioral Health Technical Assistance within SAMHSA to provide technical assistance and training on mental health and substance use disorder services in schools.
  • Increase mental health resources for justice-involved populations: Cárdenas has co-led efforts to improve resources for mental health professionals to respond to mental health emergencies, instead of law enforcement, including through the Mental Health Justice Act of 2021 (H.R. 1368).
  • Expand access to tele- and virtual mental health care options: Cárdenas has worked to expand access to telemental health care, including through the Virtual Community Support Act of 2021 (H.R. 1544). This bill would require SAMHSA to award grants for community-based mental health services, substance-use disorder services and peer support services – including those provided virtually.