May 28, 2019 - Moulton Unveils Policy to Address Mental Healthcare

Seth Moulton for America



Matt Corridoni

Moulton Unveils Policy to Address Mental Healthcare

Lynn, MA- This evening, Seth unveiled the boldest and most detailed mental healthcare plan to be released by a presidential candidate this cycle. By bringing this issue to light, and being open about his own struggle, Seth hopes to remove the stigma around mental healthcare and bring this issues front and center. Seth represents a generation of veterans from the War on Terror who should not be forced to live in the shadows while going through this struggle. Seth will be talking about his plan, and others will be telling their stories, during the veterans town halls he will be hosting in South Carolina and Nevada later this week. The full plan can be found attached and below.

We owe it to our veterans, and our country, to provide the best mental health care.

Mental health should become a routine part of healthcare in America: for our troops, our veterans—for everybody. Veterans across the country are opening up about our post-traumatic stress (PTS) and mental health challenges because it is vital that we tell our stories, end the stigma around these issues, and make sure everyone gets the support they need. And it should be a model for everyone else.

That’s why I’m outlining a plan to dramatically improve mental health care in America, starting with our veterans. Veterans are at higher risk of mental health challenges like post-traumatic stress, and their care should set the standard for the rest of the country. Mental health care should be a regular part of American life, and veterans can lead the way in ending the stigma around these issues for good. 

Here’s what my plan would do:

1. Make mental health check-ups as routine as a physical for active-duty military and veterans
* Require annual mental health check-ups just like annual physicals. Mindfulness training is preventative medicine as pioneered today by the special operations community and other elite units.
* In addition, require a mandatory counseling session for everyone returning from a combat deployment within two weeks of arriving home.
* Fill all mental health vacancies at the VA and adopt a more holistic approach to treatment, including alternative therapies like mindfulness, exercise, and cannabis. Fund an ad campaign for veterans’ families to recognize mental health symptoms.

2. Fund yearly mental health screenings for every high schooler in America
* Following the example of our troops, establish the importance of mental health at a young age by funding yearly health screenings for every high schooler in America.
* Introduce mental health training (mindfulness, yoga) into the physical education curriculum of high schools in America.

3. Establish 511 as a National Mental Health Crisis Hotline
* Every day, more than 22 veterans and active-duty servicemembers are lost to suicide. More than 50% of all Americans who struggle with mental health don’t get the help they need. Establishing a single well-known, simple number to dial will help more individuals, both veterans and civilians, get the help they need before it is too late.
* Build awareness for 511 and mental health challenges through public ad campaigns, including digital targeting for those who search for help online, and by talking more openly about our challenges to de-stigmatize these issues.


Military veterans are an incredible, and relatively small, group of Americans who volunteered to defend our nation even when it meant risking their lives. Members of the military are highly trained and effective in working together to solve complex tasks, develop leadership skills forged under the most difficult circumstances, and keep each other safe in the most dangerous situations. It is precisely these qualities and skills that make veterans so valuable to the country when they return to civilian life.

Even as we recognize and celebrate the talents and achievements of military veterans, we must also acknowledge that we have asked them to shoulder an enormous burden on our behalf. Over 6,900 U.S. servicemembers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and over 970,000 service-related disability claims have been filed with the VA.

As Americans, we owe it to those who defend our country—and to their families—to make sure they receive the best healthcare in the world. The rate of PTS is 15 times higher among those who served in the military than in the civilian population, and 50 percent of veterans with PTS do not seek treatment. To help them, I would double the number of DoD mental health professionals and increase the mental health budget by $500 million. Because every veteran—and every American—with mental health challenges should know that he or she is not alone. And we should all know that seeking help and support for mental health challenges does not mean that someone is broken.

We must recognize that mental health matters to everyone. We all have personally dealt with mental health challenges, or have a family member, friend, or co-worker who has dealt with them, whether we know it or not. High schoolers today are particularly at risk; in addition to the traditional anxieties of being a teenager, they face scrutiny on social media and live in a time of school shootings—all of them should get the support and care they need. We need to make sure that we all can discuss our mental health and get whatever help we may need. That is why I am telling my own story, encouraging others to tell theirs, and why I am proposing a mental health crisis hotline with a three-digit number (511) that everyone can memorize and use. PTS affects over 8 million Americans, including many who haven’t served in our military. The knowledge and experience gained treating our veterans at the VA should be actively shared with the wider mental health community.

Tens of millions of Americans deal with mental health conditions each year, including some of the most talented and accomplished people in the world. For example, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, American swimmer Michael Phelps, has been open about his struggle with depression. Ariana Grande, the 2016 American Music Awards Artist of the Year, has been open about dealing with PTS following the suicide attack that killed 22 people at her concert in Manchester.

Mental health is a core component of overall health: it strengthens our economy and country. Serious mental illness costs America up to $193 billion in lost earnings per year, and touches everyone in America directly or indirectly. President Obama knew this when he enshrined mental health care as an essential health benefit. We must do everything we can to protect mental health coverage in this country, and that means protecting this coverage from the current administration's efforts to undermine these essential health benefits.


Seth Moulton for America
May 30, 2019

Here’s What People Are Saying About Seth Moulton’s Mental Health Plan Rollout

“First Time In The Modern Era That A Presidential Candidate From A Major Party Has Revealed He Or She Had Received Mental Health Treatment”....MADDOW: ”This Will Have An Impact Both On The Issue, And On [Moulton’s] Presidential Prospects”... “Unprecedented Step For A Presidential Candidate From Either Major Party”... “Impressive And Bold Leadership”...”Sheer Act Of Courage”…“Beautiful To Witness The National Conversation Surrounding Mental Health Changing”...”Laying Out Implementable Plans That Everyone In The Country Can And Should Be Able To Support”...”Takes Real Strength And Courage To Talk About Something This Personal”... “Thank You Seth Moulton For Sharing And All You Do For The Veterans”... “COURAGE AFTER FIRE”... “All 2020 Candidates Should Adopt A Version Of Seth Moulton's Plan”... “Honest And Good Proposals”... “Interesting New Policy Proposal”...“Moulton’s Openness About His Mental Health Could Help Fight That Stigma”


VIDEO: MSNBC's Rachel Maddow says "this will have an impact both on the issue, and on [Moulton's] Presidential prospects"

Raw Story: A 2020 presidential candidate just took a huge step and talked publicly about his history with mental illness

Politico Headline: Seth Moulton discloses PTSD, unveils military mental health proposal

CNN Headline: Seth Moulton, who has struggled with post-traumatic stress, unveils mental health plan

Associated Press Headline: 2020 hopeful Moulton shares plan to boost mental health care

USA Today: Seth Moulton reveals he sought PTSD treatment, unveils mental health plan for veterans

NPR Headline: Rep. Seth Moulton Announces Mental Health Care Proposal By Sharing His Experience

Axios Headline: Seth Moulton tackles mental health with 2020 treatment plan

Military Times Headline: One candidate’s suicide prevention plan: Annual mental health check-ups for all troops, high schoolers

Bloomberg News Headline: Democratic 2020 Candidate Seth Moulton Says He Suffered From PTSD

The Hill Headline: Moulton unveils mental health plan, shares experience with post-traumatic stress

The Week Headline: 2020 Democratic candidate Seth Moulton shares he had PTSD, unveils mental health plan

Business Insider Headline: 2020 candidate and Marine Corps veteran Seth Moulton reveals his experience with PTS, unveils new mental health proposal

Boston Globe Headline: Moulton reveals he sought help for PTSD, calls for better mental health care for military

Task and Purpose Headline: Rep. Seth Moulton reveals his past struggle with PTSD to combat stigma around mental health care

Washington Times Headline: Rep. Seth Moulton releases plan to tackle mental health, discusses experience with PTSD

Raw Story: “In an unprecedented step for a presidential candidate from either major party, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) revealed on Tuesday in an interview with Politico that he has been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder while proposing a new mental health policy...The stigma around discussing mental health conditions and treatment permeates society far beyond the reaches of presidential politics. Moulton’s openness about his mental health could help fight that stigma...The public discussion of his own mental health was directly tied to an interesting new policy proposal. He is proposing that the government bolster mental health treatment to active-duty service members, adding annual check-ups and mandatory counseling for members returning home. He also wants to provide funding for every high schooler to have a mental health screening each year. While the policy is clearly in its early stages — Politico noted that the campaign doesn’t even have any proposed text for a bill — it could spur further discussion of mental health in the primary, which is one of the most glaring omissions from the general public policy discourse in the United States.”

Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America: “Highly respected men who talk openly and honestly about mental health help change the way people think about mental health and mental illnesses...These are honest and good proposals.”

Politico: “His policy proposal would require ‘mental health checkups’ in addition to annual physicals for active-duty military and veterans. It would also mandate a counseling session for all troops within two weeks of their return from a combat deployment. And it would provide money for yearly mental health screenings for every high schooler in the country....Moulton’s disclosure also marks the first time in the modern era that a presidential candidate from a major party has revealed he or she had received mental health treatment.”

CNN: “Moulton's policy rollout comes as he prepares to embark on a multi-day veterans mental health tour, starting with an event Tuesday in Lynn, Massachusetts. Moulton will then travel to Columbia, South Carolina on Wednesday for a veteran's town hall and then will visited a American Legion hall for a veterans town hall in Las Vegas on Saturday. Moulton's plan would make mental health check-ups standard for active-duty military and veterans, making mental health checks the same as physicals. To help more veterans suffering with PTS, Moulton would also double the number of Defense Department health professionals and boost the department's budget for helping those struggling with mental health issues by $500 million. But while the military factors heavily into his plan, Moulton wanted to make clear that mental health is not something that just affects those who served in the military.”

Military Times: “Each day, about 20 veterans nationwide and one active-duty service member die by suicide. Veterans Affairs and Defense Department officials have made the issue a major focus in recent years, but seen limited success in reducing those numbers. Moulton’s presidential platform — which has focused on a number of national security and military policies — includes making mental health check-ups “as routine as a physical for active-duty military and veterans.”That would include an annual mandated visit with mental health specialists for all serving troops and a mandatory counseling session for every service member returning from a combat deployment within two weeks of arriving home. To extend that idea to the rest of the country, Moulton is calling for making ‘mental health training’ part of high school physical education curriculum nationwide, and establishing 511 as the new National Mental Health Crisis Hotline.”

Axios: “Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder after serving as a Marine in the Iraq War, and the experience prompted him to reveal a military mental health plan as part of his 2020 presidential campaign”

USA Today: “Rep. Seth Moulton, a Marine veteran and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, revealed he sought treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq. The announcement came as the presidential hopeful unveiled a new plan to expand mental health care for veterans as part of his 2020 campaign. "When I came back from Iraq I sought help for managing post-traumatic stress. I'm glad I did," he wrote in a tweet. ‘Today, I'm sharing my experience because I want people to know they're not alone and they should feel empowered to get the treatment they need.’"

Associated Press: “Democratic presidential candidate Seth Moulton is outlining his plan to improve mental health care in the United States, particularly for veterans. The Massachusetts congressman and Iraq War veteran released his proposal on Tuesday to address the mental health challenges caused by post-traumatic stress disorder. His plan would require annual mental health checkups for active-duty military and veterans, fund yearly mental health screenings for every high school student and establish a national mental health crisis hotline. Moulton says he would also double the number of Defence Department mental health professionals and boost the mental health budget by $500 million.”

Bloomberg News: “[Moulton’s] proposal would include routine mental health checkups for people serving in the armed forces as well as veterans; finance yearly mental health screenings for all American high school students; and ‘introduce mental health training (mindfulness, yoga) into the physical education curriculum of high schools.’

The Hill: “[Moulton’s] policy proposal puts veterans at its center but seeks to improve mental health care across the board. The plan would require mental health checkups for veterans along the same lines as physicals, fill all vacancies at the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a mandatory counseling session for every service member returning from a combat deployment within two weeks of arriving home.”

The Week: “Moulton, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Marine veteran, said he wants people to know "they're not alone and they should feel empowered to get the treatment they need." Moulton also unveiled his plan to help veterans with mental health treatment, including requiring mandatory counseling for everyone returning from a combat deployment; adopting alternative therapies, including the use of cannabis; establishing a National Mental Health Crisis Hotline; and making mental health check-ups an annual event for active-duty service members and veterans. Moulton's plan also calls for funding yearly mental health screenings for every high school student in the United States. ‘We must recognize mental health matters to everyone,’ he said. ‘Tens of millions of Americans deal with mental health conditions each year, including some of the most talented and accomplished people in the world. We owe it to our country to provide the best mental health care.’"

Business Insider: “The plan comes amid record-high suicide rates amongst active-duty service members — over 320 service members died by suicide in 2018, according to On average, 20 veterans and service members kill themselves each day, according to the latest data from the VA.”

Boston Globe: “Speaking at a Lynn town hall on Tuesday, Moulton said one memory that has stayed with him is driving past an injured Iraqi boy lying in the middle of the road without stopping to help him, the Associated Press reported. Moulton said stopping to take care of the child would have endangered the lives of his entire platoon. The image of that boy, he said, is ‘‘something that haunted me every single day when I came home. Frankly, every single day that I was there.’’ Moulton said he can’t put into words how much therapy has helped him. Moulton is in his third term representing Massachusetts’ sixth congressional district. He announced his bid for the Democratic nomination for president last month.”

Task and Purpose: “His proposal would include routine mental health checkups for people serving in the armed forces as well as veterans; finance yearly mental health screenings for all American high school students; and "introduce mental health training (mindfulness, yoga) into the physical education curriculum of high schools." According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, citing criteria by the American Psychiatric Association, a person can experience PTSD after being exposed to "death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence." Moulton joined the Marine Corps in 2001, shortly after graduating from college and just months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He did four tours in Iraq, though he has said he opposed the war. He is perhaps the first presidential candidate to openly discuss having undergone mental health treatment.”

Washington Times: “The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and combat veteran says he wants to increase mental health check-ups for active-duty military and veterans and require a mandatory counseling session for everyone returning from a combat deployment within two weeks of coming back home.“ I think it’s time to completely rethink mental health care in America, and to make it as routine as physical health care,” the Massachusetts Democrat said Tuesday evening. He held a town hall on the issue at the Lynn Museum in Massachusetts and is holding similar events in South Carolina on Wednesday and in Nevada on Saturday.”

NPR: “Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Iraq veteran and presidential candidate, revealed at a campaign event Tuesday that he was treated for PTSD after his deployment and he continues to see a counselor monthly.”

Salem News: "’It was awesome,’ said Lynn resident Jon Lazar, the veterans service officer in Nahant, after the town hall. ‘It's a sheer act of courage, and brave, to get up there, especially in front of a lot of people, and talk about it.’"

Tommy Vietor @TVietor08: This is a brave and important move by @sethmoulton to destigmatize and expand military mental health services.

Matthew Syzdek ‏@MattStPaul: Impressive and bold leadership by @sethmoulton. His policy of mental health checkups and screenings has the potential to help many adult, vets, and children who otherwise wouldn’t have sought care. I’m looking forward to learning more about his campaign.

Rachel Zuckerman ‏@rachelzuckerm: It's beautiful to witness the national conversation surrounding mental health changing. Thank you for your service and for sharing your story, @sethmoulton.

Matthew Wartenbe ‏@MattWartenbe: @sethmoulton isn’t just talking about vague policy ideas on the campaign trail, he’s laying out implementable plans that everyone in the country can and should be able to support.

Democratic Alliance ‏@D_4Democracy: Thank you Congressman Moulton for sharing your own personal struggle with PTSD with the American People. We appreciate your service to our Country.

Cathleen Fountain ‏@CathyFountainNH: I congratulate & thank @sethmoulton for sharing his experience with #PTSD in hopes to ease the stigma that is felt when confronted with mental illness.

Ed Fleming ‏@flemi740: Thank you @sethmoulton for sharing and all you do for the veterans!

Leah S. Cowan ‏@leahcowan: Thank you, @sethmoulton, for normalizing and shining light on PTSD. My father is Vietnam Vet and has endured a long struggle with PTSD. Mental Health deserves a hero and I thank you for putting yourself up as one here.

Glen Johnson ‏@ByGlenJohnson: COURAGE AFTER FIRE: U.S. Rep. @sethmoulton tonight spoke about the PTSD he suffered after his Marine convoy drove around a 5-year-old boy writhing in pain after allied attack in Iraq...Said it made him better person and parent after the depths of his despair. Joined by fellow Marines and other vets who eloquently related their own tales of trauma and the mental strain that followed

Megan  ⚖ ✊ 🌈 🌱  @mgremb: All 2020 candidates should adopt a version of Seth Moulton's plan. #MentalHealth

Joe Quinn ‏@JoeQuinnHSP: #GetHeadstrong. Way to lead from the front, @sethmoulton.

DemPrimaryTracker2020 🌊 🌊 🌊 ‏@PrimaryDem: kudos to Dem Primary candidate Seth Moulton for discussing his PTSD treatment after his combat deployments #VetsAgainstTrump