On Tuesday, President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address, during which he outlined his “unity agenda”—a list of priorities that we can address as a nation, across partisan lines. The Jed Foundation (JED) applauds President Biden for emphasizing, among these, the need to address our “national mental health crisis.”
“Let’s take on mental health, especially among our children, whose lives and education have been turned upside down,” said President Biden, before urging parents to make sure their schools are well resourced.
JED’s mission is to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. Over 20 years ago, we recognized that it was vital to help young people by transforming the systems in which they spend the majority of their time—their schools.
President Biden identified many key points that are highlighted in our recent work, including:
Since 2000, JED has significantly expanded its reach and impact, but two things remain true: Schools are a major focal point for addressing our nation’s growing mental health crisis, and more holistic support is needed.
We emphasize the following recommendations in support of President Biden’s commitment to “transform how mental health is understood, perceived, accessed, treated, and integrated” both in and out of traditional health care settings:
- “Expand access to mental health support in schools and colleges and universities.”
- Adding to President Biden’s plan of increasing and diversifying on-campus health care providers, JED’s work has identified the need to create a culture of caring where students at risk can be identified by peers, educators, and administrators and receive the support they need. Social connectedness, outside of formal care situations, is an essential protective factor for students.
- “Embed and co-locate mental health and substance use providers into community-based settings.”
- JED’s work is based on the understanding that community resources are essential to supporting the mental health of teens and young adults. President Biden’s plan intends to make it easier to locate qualified care providers, while increasing resources online and broadening awareness around emerging care options, such as the new suicide prevention hotline, 988. Adding to this, we emphasize, based on our evidence-based comprehensive approach, that responding to the mental health crisis will mean addressing other emergent national issues, including substance misuse.
The power to transform our nation’s mental health landscape rests in the hands of not only lawmakers and health care providers, but also educators, community influencers, technology pioneers, industry leaders, and caregivers. By working together, we can grow awareness, reduce stigma, and ensure that those who are struggling have access to the support they need.
President Biden has done our nation a great service by bringing these issues to the forefront in his first State of the Union. JED looks forward to working closely with the White House, Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, other government agencies, and our partners to transform this vision into a reality that benefits not only our youngest and most vulnerable, but ensures the best possible care, understanding, and outcomes for all Americans.