FRIDAY, March 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — President Joe Biden has announced a new plan to expand mental health and drug abuse treatment that would devote millions to suicide prevention, mental health services for youth, and community clinics providing 24/7 crisis care.

Health insurers would also have to cover three mental health visits a year at no added cost to patients under the plan, which was introduced during Biden’s State of the Union speech earlier this week.

Biden’s plan includes a special focus on school-age youth. The upcoming budget will call for $1 billion to help schools hire counselors, psychologists, and other health workers. The budget will also propose $5 million for research on the effects of social media on children.

In addition to that, the federal government will launch a new suicide prevention hotline number — 988. Biden’s plan calls for nearly $700 million to bolster local crisis centers that can handle follow-up.

The plan also calls for making permanent an experimental program that has expanded access to 24/7 mental health and substance abuse services. Called Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, they are modeled on federally funded community health centers that have become a foundation for basic medical care in low-income communities. The behavioral health centers rely on peer counselors who have survived their own trauma to pull others out of crisis. The approach has bipartisan support, the Associated Press reported.

Last but not least, the plan aims to increase the number of mental health professionals in this country by devoting $700 million to programs that provide training, scholarships, and educational loan repayment. Biden also wants to establish professional standards for peer counselors.

Associated Press Article

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