Inseparable fights for a future where mental health policy, no longer an afterthought, helps our country thrive. Together, we will empower Americans from every town, city, and home to better care for one another by demanding and winning policy that better cares for us all.
It can feel overwhelming to experience the broken pieces of our system and frustrating to not see this crisis prioritized by our elected officials. At Inseparable, we spend a lot of time listening to understand the current state of America’s mental health. The pandemic has exposed a profound need as well as an already insufficient and often inaccessible system there to meet the demand. Millions of Americans are reporting increased rates of anxiety and depression, and rates of substance use and suicide are at unacceptable levels. The shared trauma brought on by the pandemic, a national reckoning around systemic racism, the threats of the climate crisis, and our broken approach to mental health have all laid bare the need for change.
There are a lot of problems that need to be addressed, but for us, three urgent priorities rise to the top:
In all three areas, the need is urgent, people are ready for action, and strategic leadership and courageous decision making will save lives in the future. Here’s how we will work together to advance policies and drive initiatives that will ultimately improve and save lives.
There’s a huge treatment gap between those who need help and those who receive it. Less than half of the people in America who need treatment for mental health issues receive the care they need — that’s more than 26 million people left untreated. For those with health insurance, navigating the mental healthcare system can be confusing and services are often not included in coverage. For those without insurance coverage, access to mental health services can be financially out of reach, creating an additional barrier to seeking treatment.
For people of color, LGBTQ people, veterans, postpartum women, and Native Americans, the need for care can be even greater, so we’re working to make access to care more equitable as well.
Closing the treatment gap and increasing access to care includes addressing affordability, expanding insurance coverage, integrating mental health into primary care, and building a much bigger, culturally and linguistically competent workforce. We’ll pursue actions at the state and federal level, and engage with the Biden Administration to take executive actions that reform mental health policies and expand access.
Half of all mental illness presents before age 14. In 2018, suicide was the second leading cause of death for ages 12-18 and college-age youth. As the pandemic rages on, learning patterns are being disrupted for children of all ages, increasing social isolation and putting children at an increased risk with less access to support. In 2020, there was a 24 percent increase in emergency room visits for mental health reasons for kids aged 5 through 11 and more than a 30 percent increase for kids between ages 12 and 17. We need urgent investments in prevention and early intervention to give every child in America a chance for a hopeful, healthy future.
Comprehensive school mental health systems have been proven to create positive, nourishing school climates by ensuring students have access to support systems, and vital, age-appropriate mental health and well-being knowledge and skills from K-12. Investments in prevention and early intervention with children and adolescents will strengthen resiliency and create significant savings down the line.
We’ve launched a bold, multi-year effort to bring a comprehensive approach to mental health to every school in America called the Hopeful Futures Campaign. We will work closely with federal and state government stakeholders to implement comprehensive school mental health systems by including more school counselors, mental health professionals, social and emotional learning curriculum, mental health literacy programs for students and teachers, regular mental health screenings, and more.
Mental health and addiction are some of the only medical conditions that we routinely criminalize in the United States. A conservative estimate says 900,000 people with mental illness end up in our jails every year. To put that into perspective, the L.A. County Jail is the largest mental health provider in the country. That’s unacceptable.
We’re prioritizing treatment over punishment for people with mental illnesses and calling on lawmakers to develop a federal strategy for the decriminalization of mental health and reform of crisis response systems. And because calling 911 can too often turn a crisis into tragedy like in the Daniel Prude case, we will work with mental health and criminal justice reform advocates to build and expand a robust crisis response system that prioritizes health and well-being.
Everyone has mental health, the same as they have physical health. Mental health exists on a spectrum, and everyone goes through periods where they feel like they need help coping. There are many services — like therapy, counseling, treatment programs, and more — to alleviate suffering and enable healthier, longer, more connected lives. Often defined separately, substance use services are widely and correctly regarded as an integral aspect of mental health care. A person’s mental health needs can — and will — change with life experience, from requiring occasional support to needing lasting care.
Parity requires most insurers to cover treatment for mental health and substance use disorders the same as treatment for illnesses of the body, such as diabetes and cancer. The federal government passed the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) toward righting this wrong. Unfortunately, the legislation was never properly enforced, as states are responsible for their own implementation. This reality has undoubtedly contributed to rising rates of overdoses and suicides, and has left too many without the care they’re entitled to.
The mental health support our country needs to heal is in alarmingly short supply. The existing mental health policies do not provide the access, standards, or coverage required to move forward. Inseparable’s policy agenda is different, and is based on Well Being Trust’s ‘Framework for Excellence in Mental Health and Well Being’ to do more, faster. We are for winning access to affordable, high-quality mental health care, expanding a diverse workforce, investing in proven prevention programs to foster resilience and assist children in overcoming traumatic experiences, and connecting research and innovation to frontline workers.
Join us — and start talking about the need for mental health reform with your loved ones. If we work together, we can heal from this moment. We can reform our system if we come together and demand it. We can all take care of each other. We can win.
Inseparable was launched with seed funding from Well Being Trust and a number of private individuals. We will seek support from foundations, individuals, and businesses that share our commitment to making sure every American has access to affordable, high-quality mental health care. Help us change the mental health care system together. Join our movement with a donation today.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they text HOME to 741741.