Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump On Mental Health

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 

According to the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability advocacy group, half of people killed by police have a disability of some sort. According to historian David Perry and “disability expert” Lawrence Long, “Police have become the default responders to mental health calls.” We know this was the case with Anthony Hill, a Georgia Air Force veteran who was shot to death by police in his apartment complex in 2015. Hill suffered from bipolar disorder, and was off his medication at the time. He was obviously unarmed, as he was naked at the time of the confrontation. The officer was later indicted. Clearly, we need to overhaul mental health care in America, and we need to do it yesterday.

As Hillary said in August, we need to make sure that the next generation gets quality mental health care—without shame, without stigma, without barriers.” According to the Kim Foundation, “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older or about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.” Many also face complications like “drug and alcohol addiction, incarceration, homelessness, or chronic health conditions.”

Hillary will promote early detection of mental health, including PPD, infant mental health, and childhood trauma and stress. She will increase funding for early detection of behavioral problems through schools and pediatricians, and encourage colleges to develop “comprehensive mental health programs.” She will also launch a nationwide initiative for suicide prevention, involving everyone from HHS to the FDA to the VA to high schools and colleges, with “special emphasis on LGBT students and students of color.”

She will “integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person” and expand community-based treatment.” Mental health care will be available in “general health settings”. She will also push to increase the number of mental health professionals.

In a move that may have saved Anthony Hill, Hillary will “prioritize treatment over jail for low-level, nonviolent offenders and help train law enforcement officers in responding to conflicts involving persons with mental illness.” This will include adequate training for officers on crisis intervention so they can “safely respond to individuals with mental illness.”

She will also enforce the Mental Health Parity Act, a bill she co-sponsored, to the fullest extent of the law, increase funding for brain research, and “improve access to housing and job opportunities” for those that require a hand up.

Trump’s plan, on the other hand, includes “reforming our mental health programs and institutions” (it’s unclear what this means). Families, he says, are often not given the tools to help their loved ones, and bipartisan support is needed for bills in Congress that “offer promising reforms.”

He also wants to demolish Obamacare.

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