Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act (S. 1795)

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

This bill establishes and expands programs to address racial and ethnic disparities in mental health. Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must award grants to establish interprofessional behavioral health care teams in areas with a high proportion of racial and ethnic minority groups. In addition, HHS may award grants to incorporate best practices and competencies to address mental health disparities in curricula for training social workers, psychologists, and other behavioral health professionals. HHS must also promote behavioral and mental health and reduce stigma associated with mental health conditions and substance use disorder through outreach to racial and ethnic minority groups. HHS must consult with appropriate advocacy groups and behavioral health organizations to develop a strategy for this outreach. The bill also (1) reauthorizes the minority fellowship program to support the education of mental health professionals who provide services to racial and ethnic minorities, and (2) requires studies on mental health disparities and the effects of social media use on adolescents. Sponsor: Sen. Robert Menendez (Democrat, New Jersey)
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Opponents say

    "White Americans seem to be more vulnerable to certain psychosocial risk factors for a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes compared to minority groups. In other words, they are less resilient – less able to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of highly adverse conditions." Shervin Assari, Research Investigator of Psychiatry and Public Health, University of Michigan

Proponents say

    "This issue requires more than rhetoric; it demands decisive action. This legislation ensures that public health agencies prioritize tackling issues of mental health and suicide, as well as longstanding disparities that exist in mental health access for communities of color that continue to bear the disproportionate brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is my sincere hope that together, with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we can finally address this racial inequity in our mental health care system." Source: Sen. Robert Menendez (Democrat, New Jersey) 

    "As we work to address and dismantle structural racial inequities in our healthcare system, we must prioritize expanding access to mental health care and services. The Mental Health Equity Act is an important step forward to ensuring that quality, affordable mental health care is accessible in and to every community" Source: Sen. Cory Booker (Democrat, New Jersey)