Counties Recognize Mental Health Awareness Month

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WASHINGTON – The National Association of Counties (NACo) Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing will convene May 9-11 in Washington for a two-day fly-in to advance policy priorities, part of a major effort to move the needle on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond. Also during the month of May, NACo will release new data highlighting county perspectives on addressing the mental health crisis.  

“This month is about raising awareness around mental health, and NACo’s Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing is committed to elevating specific policy priorities, informing the conversation with fresh data, and engaging counties and our partners across the U.S. in meaningful action,” said NACo President Denise Winfrey.  

County leaders are advocating for policy objectives including: 

  • Amending detrimental policies under Medicaid, like the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP) and the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion 
  • Obtaining direct and flexible resources to support the recruitment, training and retention of a sufficient behavioral health workforce 
  • Enhancing the intergovernmental partnership for the development and modernization of local crisis response systems and infrastructure, and 
  • Enforcing policies that ensure equitable coverage for treatment of mental illness and addiction. 

“Our policy priorities add up to a cohesive strategy for reimagining the advancement of mental health support,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “Counties see the full picture when it comes to mental health, and we are committed to advocating for policy solutions that alleviate suffering, address workforce shortages, remedy systemic failures, and produce better outcomes for all.” 

During a briefing the morning of May 11, NACo commission members will examine new data illustrating county government experiences in addressing the mental health crisis. The report is expected to emphasize the growing volume of mental health service needs and the nationwide shortage of behavioral health care workers. Press interested in attending the briefing virtually may register here

Beginning May 1 and continuing throughout the month, counties will engage in a range of activities in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, including: 

  • Hosting members of Congress and other state or federal policymakers for visits to mental health facilities and other relevant sites 
  • Posting messages on social media and in other public forums raising awareness of the county role in behavioral health systems  
  • Issuing proclamations observing Mental Health Awareness Month 
  • Convening stakeholders and decisionmakers for meetings to address local mental and behavioral health challenges, and 
  • Contacting members of Congress and local media to advocate for NACo’s policy priorities. 

“Counties are uniquely positioned to lead efforts with a wide range of partners to address our nation’s mental health crisis,” said President Winfrey. “Our central role in healthcare, justice, and emergency response, as well as our responsibility to act as a safety net for those most in need, means we know what is at stake. That’s why we are advocating for practical solutions – this month and all year round.” 

For more information about NACo’s Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing, click here.  

For more information about NACo’s call to action for Mental Health Awareness Month, click here.