Pete for America
For Immediate Release
August 23, 2019
Chris Meagher

Pete Releases Comprehensive Plan to Improve Mental Health Care and Combat Addiction

MANCHESTER, NH — Today, Mayor Pete Buttigieg laid out his vision to improve mental health care and battle the opioid and addiction crisis across the country. Buttigieg’s comprehensive plan makes a true commitment to treating the mental health care crisis with the urgency it deserves, and offers a new approach to meeting our national challenge with community-based solutions.
“For years, politicians in Washington have claimed to prioritize mental health care while slashing funding for treatment and ignoring America’s growing addiction and mental health crisis,” said Buttigieg. “That neglect must end. Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal.”

Pete understands that we must take mental health seriously as a nation — for so many Americans, it is a matter of life and death. In the past two decades alone, almost 450,000 people have died due to opioid overdose. Twenty veterans and active service members die by suicide each day.  At the same time, America’s health care system is unequipped to deal with the mental health crisis. Less than one in five people with a substance use disorder and two of every five people with a mental illness receive treatment. This crisis of pain and despair is especially acute among people of color and other marginalized people and age groups.  

Pete’s plan will result in:

  • Preventing 1 million deaths of despair (to drugs, alcohol, and suicide) by 2028.
  • Ensuring least 75% of people who need mental health or addiction services receive the care that they need, an increase of more than 10 million in Pete's first term.
  • Decreasing the number of people incarcerated due to mental illness or substance use by 75% by the end of his first term.
His plan tackles this crisis head on by making doctor’s visits for conditions like depression or bipolar disorder as accessible as visits for physical ailments. It changes the way we think and talk about mental health and addiction to drive home the fact that these illnesses are not moral failings. Offering a new approach, Pete’s plan focuses on and invests in community-centered solutions, which make sure every person living with a mental illness or a substance use disorder has the resources and support they need to begin to heal.

Pete’s plan will systematically improve mental health care and combat addiction by:

  • Enforcing parity for mental health and addiction treatment coverage by penalizing insurance companies that do not comply.
  • Empowering communities most affected by mental illness and addiction to address the problem in their own way by creating $10 billion annual Healing and Belonging grants over a 10-year period.
  • Universalizing access to life-saving medication to treat opioid use disorder, including medication-assisted treatment.
  • Dramatically expanding the mental health and addiction workforce.
  • Creating a Community HealthService Corps under Pete’s national service plan to strengthen communities throughout the country.
  • Decriminalizing mental illness and addiction through diversion, treatment, and re-entry programs.
  • Expanding take-home naloxone programs to all 50 states by 2024.
  • Requiring every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses.
  • Launching a national campaign to end social isolation and loneliness.
Read Pete’s full plan to help build our country’s resilience to mental illness and addiction and ensure that those suffering have access to mental health care.