Hot Topics / Priority Issues

TUESDAY, SEP 20, 2022

After Launching National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health, HHS Releases Roadmap Based on Patient and Provider Feedback

The roadmap details policy solutions that would help to better integrate behavioral health care into the larger healthcare system.

On September 16, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration (Roadmap), which details policy solutions that would help to better integrate mental health and substance use care into the larger health care system and other systems. The Roadmap is based on feedback Secretary Becerra received from patients and providers during more than two dozen stops on his National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health. Launched in March the day after President Biden’s State of the Union address, Secretary Becerra’s National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health – like the Roadmap – is one of the many ways HHS is working to answer President Biden’s call to transform the delivery of behavioral health care in the U.S.

“From Wilmington, Delaware, to Seattle, Washington, and cities and towns in between, I have heard directly from Americans and their providers about our nation’s behavioral health care challenges – including the pervasive and persistent disparities in access that exist across the country,” said Secretary Becerra. “In order to ensure equity in access to affordable, high-quality, culturally appropriate care for mental health and substance use, we must fully integrate behavioral health into the larger health care system and other systems. This Roadmap provides a path for getting there.”

Armed with first-hand knowledge of the experiences of patients and providers, in May, Secretary Becerra tasked HHS’ Behavioral Health Coordinating Council with operationalizing the feedback from the tour. The result is a Roadmap that aims to ensure that the full spectrum of behavioral health care will be integrated into the health care, social service, and early childhood systems to ensure all people have equitable access to evidence-based, culturally appropriate, person-centered care.

In addition to creating a Roadmap that serves people of all ages with all conditions, HHS has been leading major initiatives that advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of transforming the delivery of behavioral health care. Such initiatives include the HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy, the implementation of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Prevention Lifeline (988 Lifeline), along with linking 9-8-8 to mobile crisis services. The Roadmap builds on historic investments made by the Biden-Harris Administration, including:

  • $13 million in funding to increase access to behavioral health care services and address health inequities in rural America;
  • $35 million to better support 988 Lifeline services in tribal communities, which face unique challenges to accessing technology and crisis services;
  • $40.22 million in youth mental health grants intended to address pandemic-related stressors that have increased mental health conditions among younger Americans;
  • $47.6 million in new grant opportunities for school-based mental health programs; and
  • $79.1 million in overdose prevention grants to span the continuum – prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery supports.

As Secretary Becerra and HHS leaders from across the department continue to tour the nation, listening to and learning from the experience of Americans struggling with mental health and substance use challenges, HHS will continue to innovate and implement policies that fulfill the Roadmap’s goal of helping everyone access behavioral health care when needed.