WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh visited George Washington University’s Hospital and Behavior Health Department on May 17, 2022, to meet with students, faculty and hospital residents to discuss ways to strengthen professional pathways to mental health care and to hear about workers’ experience with behavioral health service delivery and staff support amid the pandemic. 

The visit highlighted the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to strengthening pipelines and supporting and diversifying professionals in the mental and behavioral health field, as the nation marks Mental Health Awareness Month. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports about 41,000 openings for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors are projected each year, on average, through 2030.

The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that – among the 52.9 million adults with any mental illness – 16.1 million people perceived an unmet need for mental health services.

“In his State of the Union, President Biden outlined a unity agenda in which he announced a national mental health strategy to connect more Americans to care. For this initiative to be successful, our mental health care workers must be supported, and we must have a strong pipeline of diverse professionals coming in the industry,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Without investing in this vital workforce, we will be unable to meet the acute demand for mental health services, which the pandemic has increased significantly.”

On May 4, 2022, Secretary Walsh and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra met with health insurance and business leaders on to discuss compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, adequacy of in-network providers and mental health and substance use disorder treatment during the pandemic.

 

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