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That's about the shape of it.


While everybody was yammering about Anthony Weiner's dick again Monday (yes, yes, us too, but come on, it's a made for Wonkette story!), Hillary Clinton's campaign went and released a pretty darn comprehensive proposal for integrating mental health care with medical care. The fact that it hardly got any press suggests that we are all really superficial, but we're going to just count that as a thinking error and not beat ourselves up over it, which won't do any good at all. The important thing is that we're covering it now, and that's OK. Fortunately, we were reminded today that of the two presidential candidates, one has released a mental health care policy proposal, and the other has been praised by a licensed psychiatrist for talking about his dick on TV.

So, what's in this Clinton mental health initiative, since we keep saying policy matters? The overall goal is "integrating our healthcare systems and finally putting the treatment of mental health on par with that of physical health," or as people in the insurance and health care industry have called it forever, mental health care parity. The Affordable Care Act already took one big step toward that goal, requiring insurance plans to cover mental and physical health care equally. The Clinton plan outlines several key areas that would make mental health care a priority in her administration:

  • Promote early diagnosis and intervention, including launching a national initiative for suicide prevention.
  • Integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the “whole person,” and significantly enhance community-based treatment.
  • Improve criminal justice outcomes by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for non-violent, low-level offenders.
  • Enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law.
  • Improve access to housing and job opportunities.
  • Invest in brain and behavioral research and developing safe and effective treatments.

That third one, mental health and law enforcement? That one's huge, and might do as much to help reform the criminal justice system as sentencing reform. One study a couple years back found that prisons and jails house ten times as many people with severe mental illnesses than do state mental hospitals. Big surprise: Treating people with severe mental illness is a hell of a lot less expensive than incarcerating them, too.

Clinton also pledged to hold a "White House Conference on Mental Health" during her first year in office, which seems like a worthwhile plan as well -- and likely to have a more direct impact on improving more people's lives than yelling about immigration.

At least mental health professionals noticed; the American Psychiatric Association immediately endorsed the plan. APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., praised the Clinton campaign for making mental health a campaign issue:

"We welcome the attention Clinton is giving to mental health, an issue that affects Americans from all walks of life," Oquendo said. "Our mental health system needs to be discussed this election season. Americans deserve to know how the candidates plan to address this important issue."

Or at least trying to make it an election-year issue; as Rachel Maddow Show producer Steve Benen notes at MSNBC, the policy proposal not only didn't get a lot of press, it also didn't even get any blowback from Republicans, who have been too busy complaining that the presidential campaign has been too taken up with dumb insults instead of debate on issues of substance:

It seemed plausible, for example, that congressional Republicans and/or the RNC would complain that Clinton’s mental-health plan would cost too much. Maybe we’d hear the ol’ “throw money at the problem” canard or something similar.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, congressional Republicans said nothing and the RNC didn’t even bother to issue a perfunctory press release.

And what about Trump? The Republican presidential nominee had plenty to say yesterday about Anthony Weiner and the NFL quarterback who doesn’t want to stand for the National Anthem, but Trump didn’t even pretend to care about Clinton’s agenda on mental health.

It's not like this stuff is unimportant, either, considering the scope of mental health issues in America, as the Washington Post points out:

According to a government study, about 1 in 5 adults — or 43.6 million people — had a mental illness in 2014, with nearly 10 million of those experiencing a serious condition, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The same study said that 2.8 million adolescents had a major depressive episode during the past year.

Yr Wonkette is glad to see at least an attempt to bring this issue into the campaign; one of the things we've unironically loved about Obamacare is that our coverage for brain pills is no longer dependent on the goodness of a pharmaceutical company's heart through the local charity clinic. And the next time there's a mass shooting and some Fox News twit says the problem isn't guns, it's mental health, you can get beyond saying "Shut up, it's usually both" and ask them where their candidate's plan for actually doing something about mental health is.

[HillaryClinton.com / WaPo / APA / MSNBC / KPCC / Kaiser Health News / NPR / Kaiser Health News again]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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