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Statement from Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America

Mental Health America congratulates President-Elect Joe Biden being elected the 46th President of the United States, along with his running mate, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.

We look forward to working with them and the Biden Administration during the next four years on so many issues of common concern. President-Elect Biden has distinguished himself by his policy work in the past. This includes protections under the Affordable Care Act for coverage of pre-existing conditions and for Medicaid coverage for people with serious behavioral health conditions. It also includes fair coverage for mental health services under the Mental Health Parity Act, and laying the foundation for a more responsive mental health delivery system under the 21st Century Cures Act, to name a few.

More importantly, we deeply appreciate the tone President-Elect Biden set during the tense past days, weeks, and months.

He understands the impact the pandemic has had on our overall health – including our mental health – and the imperative that we act immediately to get this virus under control to save lives.

He also understands the deep impact systemic racism and bigotry have had on people in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, generations of immigrant families, as well as people – including those who identify as LGBTQ+ – who have been marginalized so often in the past. He understands that it was past time to elevate women to positions of power and authority.

And he and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have demonstrated they are antiracists in their hearts— and in their words. We welcome this as the next step on our nation’s journey toward being a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive society.

We also appreciate – and cannot overstate – President-Elect Biden’s empathy. He understands how trauma, grief and loss affect so many of us because he has lived these in the past and has been so open about talking about how these have affected him. Showing that kind of vulnerability is often atypical for so many men, and in its special strength, it sets a needed example for our mental health. He relates to the experiences so many of us are facing during these dark times. And yet he lives with a sense of hope and joy for the future that can lift all our spirits.

During the next four years, MHA will continue to advocate for mental health for all – for prevention, for early identification and intervention for those at risk, and for truly integrated services for all who need them, with recovery for all. Our efforts to get our society to act before mental health concerns become mental health crises – as we say, Before Stage 4 – will continue, beginning with children and continuing through all ages. We will continue to impress on health care delivery systems the value and expertise of those with lived experiences. We will not waiver from our commitment to ending the custodial incarceration of nonviolent people living with mental health conditions or the need for police and sheriffs to be called to address mental health emergencies when skilled mental health professionals should be the ones who respond.

The people of America have decided that it is time for a change. In the area of mental health, we agree. Ours is not – and never has been – a partisan issue. And so, we look forward to continuing to work with our friends on both sides of the aisle to increase funding and support for all people living with mental health conditions.

Frankly, we all need mental health support today more than ever. We are experiencing the most traumatic times of our lives. We pledge to work with President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris in making our nation and world a mentally healthier place for us all.