Voters are motivated by different issues, but most issues impact mental health.
#Vote4MentalHealth is about more than a single policy issue. It’s about knowing how different issues affect people with mental health conditions. See how the issues you care about intersect with mental health.
About one in five people in the U.S. experience a mental health condition, but more than half did not receive treatment because of our inadequate mental health system. More than 1 in 10 adults with mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2021, but even with coverage, finding care is difficult: over 160 million people live in a designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Area. Comprehensive, equitable coverage of mental health care should be the standard for everyone in our country, along with access to quality treatment when and where people need it.
Criminal Justice Reform
People with mental health conditions are overly represented in our criminal justice system: over one-third of adults incarcerated in the state and federal prison system and nearly three-quarters of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental illness. Unfortunately, the lack of well-designed crisis care across the country has forced the criminal justice system to become a de facto mental health system. People should receive a safe and humane response to mental health crises to help prevent interactions with law enforcement.
Jobs & the Economy
People want, need and have the right to be meaningfully employed. However, our current system falls far short of this goal. Serious mental illness leads to over $190 billion in lost earnings each year in the U.S., and the unemployment rate is higher among adults with a mental illness compared to those who do not have a mental health condition. Full and fair access to education, vocational rehabilitation, job training, and employment and business assistance helps people with mental health conditions get and stay meaningfully employed.
Across the country, it continues to get more difficult to find an affordable place to live. For someone with a mental health condition, the lack of safe and affordable housing is one of the most powerful barriers to recovery. Sadly, one in five people experiencing homelessness has a serious mental health condition. Having a safe, affordable place to live can provide stability to allow someone to achieve their wellness goals.
Providing veterans with quality health care is a national responsibility, but our veterans are struggling. Nearly 1 in 5 veterans in the U.S. experience a mental illness. And tragically each day, an average of 17 veterans die by suicide. Ensuring veterans have timely access to high-quality mental health care is imperative to reduce the high rate of suicide and to provide quality of life for our veterans after their service to our nation.
America’s youth are facing a mental health crisis. One in six youth have a mental health condition. Yet, only half received any kind of treatment. Tragically, 10% of high school students attempted suicide in 2021. Since children spend much of their productive time in educational settings, schools provide a unique opportunity to address mental health by serving students where they already are – in classrooms and on campus.
Immigration to the U.S. is a complex and stressful process. New immigrants experience cultural changes, xenophobia, and discrimination, all which can have negative consequences for their mental well-being. Unfortunately, during the immigration process, people usually lack access to comprehensive health care, including mental health care. Individuals and families should be able to access quality, affordable mental health care regardless of their income, geographic location, or immigration and citizenship status.
All people with mental health conditions do not have the same level of access to care and do not receive the same quality of care. Racism is a public health threat, and racial inequities within the mental health care system are well documented. People of color are less likely to receive mental health services compared to those who are white, and more likely to be uninsured. It is essential for culture and identity to be a part of the conversation when discussing mental health care and policy.
The LGBTQI community experiences higher rates of mental illness and faces barriers to accessing mental health care. The Trevor Project found that 56% of LGBTQ young people report they wanted mental health care in the past year but were unable to receive it. Additionally, transgender adults are nearly 9 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population. Removing barriers to accessing appropriate mental health care is key to supporting LGBTQI populations with mental health conditions.