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Monday, May 11, 2020
12: 00pm ET

2020 Virtual Hill Day

We hope you were able to join Mental Health America (MHA) for Virtual Hill Day on Monday, May 11, 2020; but if you were not able to join, see the resources below including key asks, talking points, sample social media posts, and a comprehensive advocacy toolkit, to take action on your own. 

This day of advocacy will help affiliates, people with lived experience, caregivers, and the general public unite and engage legislators through calls, emails, and social media posts to increase mental health funding as a critical component of any upcoming COVID-19 emergency relief legislation. Special guests, legislators, and MHA leadership will be presenting an online kickoff, starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT / 9:00 a.m. PDT.

COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on mental health as well as physical health. There is an immediate need for all of us to urge our elected representatives to act. MHA’s screening data for February through April 2020 demonstrates an increase in prevalence and severity of anxiety and depression in youth and adults, as well as thousands of screeners citing loneliness, isolation, and COVID-19 as contributing to their mental health challenges right now. Congress must act NOW to address these needs. Let your voice be heard.

This event has concluded.

Download the slides


Kickoff Agenda – 12:00 – 1:00 EDT

  • Opening remarks & housekeeping - Debbie Plotnick, Vice President of Federal and State Advocacy, MHA
  • MHA National screening data trends - Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO, MHA
  • Special guest – Invited: Chris Wood, MHA National Board Member and MHA Brand Ambassador
  • Legislator remarks
  • Federal legislative update - Mary Giliberti, Executive Vice President of Policy, MHA
  • Formal presentation of Hill Day asks/actions to take (phone, email, social) – Debbie Plotnick, Vice President of Federal and State Advocacy, MHA, and Caren Howard, Advocacy Manager, MHA
  • Question and answer session
  • Closing/Charge
  • Webinar concludes


Thank you for participating in MHA 2020 Virtual Hill Day. Your participation is important, and your views are valued by your elected representatives. MHA’s 2020 Policy and Advocacy agenda advances the Before Stage Four (B4Stage4) philosophy.

Send an Action Alert

Choose which areas of interest resonate most with you and act upon those.


Approval of bills that fund programs and agencies is an essential duty of Congress. These funding bills are called appropriations and usually provide funds for one fiscal year. Each fiscal year expires the last calendar day of September. In response to the health and economic fallout from the spread of COVID-19, Congress has passed three major bills and one interim bill outside of this regular process to meet emergency needs – giving money to states, hospitals, businesses and nonprofit organizations, and families and individuals to deal with the ramifications of the pandemic. However, Congress has not provided sufficient funding to meet mental health needs. Congress must be reminded that this crisis is taking a toll on everyone’s mental health, and mental health services and supports are no less critical than any other health services.

Talking Point

The COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming our communities and our nation’s health care system, including for mental health and addiction. Congress must take immediate action to prevent the behavioral health system from collapsing and to mitigate a greater public health and economic crisis arising from untreated mental illness and addiction.

  • Will you support increased funding for community behavioral health organizations that are losing revenue to meet new COVID-19-related mental health needs?

    Tweet this

  • Will you support additional funding for Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for emerging mental health needs of children and adults, including crisis services for frontline and essential workers, expanding virtual peer support, screening and surveillance of prevalence, and other needs?

    Tweet this

  • Will you support additional funding for National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) for brain research, related to emerging needs from to COVID-19?

    Tweet this

  • Will you support additional funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for emergency workforce development, including but not limited to immediately increasing slots and paying for training for psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, licensed mental health professionals, and certified peer specialists?

    Tweet this



Since the COVID-19 national public health emergency declaration was made, the Administration announced changes and guidance to health care including expeditiously approving changes to Medicaid plans that allow for payment of telehealth services. Congress also acted on H.R. 742, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to make key changes to services, including temporarily allowing coverage of telehealth services under Medicare. Some private health plans followed suit and kept a pledge to allow their plans to cover telehealth services more broadly, even waiving some out of pocket costs for COVID-19 related care. Usage of telehealth services has drastically increased for both mental health conditions and co-occurring disorders in March and April, yet millions of families are still unable to utilize these services.

Talking Point

Thank you for expanding coverage of telehealth services under Medicare and for giving states more flexibility in Medicaid plans to cover telehealth services. Unfortunately, not all employer-sponsored plans, known as Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plans, are covering and reimbursing tele-mental health equal to in-person mental health care.

  • Will you ensure that all types of employer-sponsored health plans and Medicaid plans cover and pay for telehealth services at the same rate as in person services?

    Tweet this

  • Will you commit to making all newly covered telehealth services permanently covered beyond the emergency period, as more people will find they have unmet mental health needs after the crisis draws down and regular activities resume?

    Tweet this



The number of people dying by suicide continues to increase in the U.S. Suicide claims more than 48,000 lives annually. Rates of suicide since 2007 have nearly tripled in youth and adults aged 10 to 24 years, making suicide the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-17 years old and young adults ages 18-34. COVID-19 has the potential to exacerbate the suicide crisis as physical distancing contributes to feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Many are also experiencing increased stress from health and economic concerns. Increases in suicide and mental health crises are not inevitable. Congress should act to expand access to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and support mental health services in schools.

Talking Point

The COVID-19 crisis is causing economic and mental health concerns leading to increased anxiety and depression. Congress should act now to support suicide prevention, designating the easy to remember 988 number for the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Hotline (Lifeline) and increasing resources to the Lifeline.

Meet youth where they are by supporting the provision of mental health services in schools.

  • Will you support inclusion of the National Suicide Designation Act, deeming 988 the new Lifeline number, in the next COVID-19 relief package?

    Tweet this

  • Will you support fully funding the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at $80 million in the next COVID-19 relief package?

    Tweet this

  • Will you support inclusion of H.R. 1109/ S. 1122 - the Mental Health Services for Students Act - in the next COVID-19 relief bill?

    Tweet this


When talking to an elected official about mental health in your family or community, is it important to end your personal story with a specific ask? How long does it take to schedule a meeting with a legislator? What bills is Congress considering related to youth and children’s mental health? What is Facebook Townhall? Find out answers to all of this plus more so that you can take informed action today!

Download the toolkit


MHA created graphics you can download and share on social media.

Download graphics


The COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming our communities and our nation’s health care system, including for mental health and addiction services. Congress must take immediate action to prevent the behavioral health system from collapsing and to mitigate a greater public health and economic crisis from untreated mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

MHA’s Advocacy Team mobilizes stakeholders to act on Hill Day as part of a nationwide movement toward a robust mental health system that promotes prevention and early intervention initiatives, access to integrated community-based treatments, and supports that are recovery-focused and that encompass community inclusion.

MHA – founded in 1909 – is the nation's leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Our work is driven by our commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them, with recovery as the goal. Much of our current work is guided by the Before Stage 4 (B4Stage4) philosophy – that mental health conditions should be treated long before they reach a chronic stage.

For questions, email