DGA: Improving Mental Health Care in the States: Opportunities for Governors

Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses affect millions of Americans each year. People living with mental illness face many barriers to improving their health, including overcoming stigma, finding an available healthcare provider, having coverage to access medically necessary care, and many more. Those affected also face issues relating to employment, poverty, housing, and maintaining personal relationships, which can mean higher costs to the state. State costs can include costs associated with homelessness, unemployment and underemployment, incarceration and extended jail time, and lost productivity. 
This paper describes the burden of mental illness on individuals and states, barriers to improving health, and suggested policy solutions. For each of the suggested policy ideas, the paper highlights programs Democratic governors have adopted that can serve as models for other states. Potential policy solutions include:
• Raising awareness to address stigma; 
• Early identification of mental health conditions and intervention;
• Integrating physical care and mental health care services;
• Innovating to address provider shortages; 
• Improving treatment adherence; and
• Enhancing coverage for mental health care treatments and services.
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