Invest in prevention and early intervention approaches that treat the root causes of suicide and mental health problems.
We must invest in prevention and early intervention approaches in a range of settings, including schools, places of employment, and community spaces. In addition, the mental health impact of COVID-19 has not only hit marginalized communities hard but has unduly strained the lives of those fighting on the frontlines, from delivery workers to health care professionals to first responders. We must assess and care for the needs of essential works and first responders by measuring the mental and emotional effects of this pandemic on these individuals.
Priority 6 Calls to Action
Invest in prevention and early intervention approaches in a range of settings, including schools, places of employment, and community spaces.
- We call on federal, state, and local policymakers and private payers to adopt a population-based approach to addressing mental health and substance use issues across the continuum of need, which means funding effective and efficient clinical care for those with psychiatric diagnoses, early intervention and other risk-mitigating strategies for at-risk individuals, and preventive wellness promotion for the general population.
- We call on federal, state, and local policymakers to build capacity for mental health and substance use treatment professionals to work from a population health approach by allocating funding specifically for this purpose. Especially critical to this effort are training more professionals who work with children and adolescents, building the capacity of mental health services in school settings, and more effectively reaching communities disproportionately impacted by trauma and behavioral health conditions.
- We call on government, philanthropic, and private grant-makers to fund research on a population health approach that supports the behavioral health of the entire population. The approach should be centered around promoting wellness, preventing illness, and identifying early intervention strategies for behavioral health conditions; it should also focus on ways to decrease the risk for behavioral health challenges, reduce behavioral health disparities, support culturally appropriate interventions, and improve approaches to promoting children’s behavioral health and addressing the effects of trauma.
Assess and care for the needs of essential workers and first responders impacted by the pandemic.
- We call on the National Response to assess, compile, and disseminate data regarding the mental health and suicide prevention needs of, and the impact of the pandemic on, the mental well-being and health of first responders, health care professionals, and public safety workers. These data can then inform policy and public and private institution response and enhance infrastructure supports.
- We call on federal entities who have oversight of agencies with essential workers, such as the Bureau of Prisons, to include resources, funding, and guidance for mental health, emotional stress, and trauma support in Continuity of Operations Plans.
- We call on accreditation bodies responsible for overseeing the work conditions of essential workers to ensure (by including specific requirements that must be inspected) that agencies have protocols in place and activated to mitigate the risk for virus spread and provide trauma-informed evidence-based supports when remediation is needed.
- We call on the federal agencies (e.g., NIMH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SAMHSA, Department of Justice, Department of Education) and national organizations on the National Response Team through public-private partnerships, SAMHSA, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line to enhance crisis and ongoing support for first responders and health care workers; we also call on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect all workers from COVID-19 and to act on their statutory authority to inspect workplaces and issue citations for non-compliance.
Priority 6 Work Group
Priority 6 is one of six strategic imperatives the National Response has identified to help transform mental health and suicide prevention nationwide in the wake of the pandemic and beyond.
The co-leaders of the multi-sector Priority 6 Work Group are:
- Dr. Arthur Evans, Chief Executive Officer, American Psychological Association
- Dr. Jerry Reed, Senior Vice President, Practice Leadership, Education Development Center
Please visit this page often for progress updates and for information on how you can get involved.