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U.S. Presidential Candidates’ Positions on Mental Health and Addiction Released by “Mental Health for US” Coalition

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Mental Health for US today released survey responses from the top presidential candidates concerning our nation’s growing mental health and addiction crises. The survey, which asked 11 unbiased questions addressing suicide and drug overdose, criminal justice reform, equal access to care, and more, aimed to get top candidates on the record about steps they would take to improve mental health and addiction in America.
Presidential candidates averaging at or above one percent in national polls tracked by RealClearPolitics on July 15, 2019 were given the opportunity to respond. Survey recipients were:
Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
U.S. Senator Cory Booker
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar
Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
U.S. President Donald Trump
Former U.S. Governor Bill Weld
Mr. Andrew Yang
The following candidates provided responses outlining their plans to improve mental health and addiction care in the United States:
U.S. Senator Cory Booker
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
Full responses, which were limited to 300 words per question, have been published verbatim on the Mental Health for US website. The Mental Health for US coalition encourages presidential candidates who have not yet completed the survey to respond so that voters are informed of their plans to address issues related to mental health.
“Every person in America has been affected by mental health and addiction, whether they’re vocal about it or not. It’s encouraging to see candidates share their thoughts on issues that continue to devastate families and communities nationwide,” said former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum and co-chair of the Mental Health for US coalition. “However, these survey responses are just the beginning of the discussion. The Mental Health for US coalition was created to help educate policymakers and candidates on the steps needed to close dangerous gaps in mental health care access and quality in this country.”
An analysis of the survey responses shows several commonalities among respondents. All respondents mentioned increasing access to mental health and addiction care in rural and underserved populations as a key driver in reducing deaths by suicide and overdose. Nearly all respondents also indicated their intention to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the opioid epidemic and all respondents shared plans to expand access to treatment and services for those living in recovery from addiction. Additionally, all respondents agreed that mental health and addiction must be decriminalized in some way, and that increased funding will be critical to expand and improve services.
However, approaches to solving mental health and addiction issues varied widely, as did candidates’ priorities. Some candidates focused more on improving early intervention and prevention, while others outlined plans to address the country’s current concerns. Plans to enforce federal and state parity laws, reform the criminal justice system, and increase access to evidence-based treatment options were approached differently by respondents.
“Policymakers, including candidates for president, should be aware of the enormous mental health and addiction challenges facing our nation,” said former U.S. Senator Gordon H. Smith, co-chair of the Mental Health for US coalition. “We urge every candidate to put forth policy proposals to address this crisis, starting with this survey and our Presidential Candidate Forum series. There are few families in America who have gone untouched by mental illness. We challenge policymakers to address this crisis with understanding, empathy and a treatment option strategy that will end suffering for so many.”
The Mental Health for US Presidential Candidate Forum series will kick off at Drake University in Iowa on September 27. Tickets are free to the public and can be reserved here. Subsequent events will take place in New Hampshire on December 16, 2019 and in California on January 13, 2020. These forums offer presidential candidates the opportunity to speak directly with the community about their plans to address mental health and addiction in America.
About Mental Health for US
Mental Health for US is a nonpartisan educational initiative focused on elevating mental health and addiction in policy conversations by empowering grassroots advocates and improving candidate and policymaker health literacy. The initiative is powered by a coalition of stakeholder groups from around the country dedicated to uniting the American people to make systemic, long-term change with civic engagement tools and resources. For more information, visit
Media Contact
Erin Buckley
SOURCE Mental Health for US
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