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What Happened at the White House Mental Health Conference?

Barack Obama at his Chicago HomeMany of you heard about the White House Mental Health Conference but weren’t able to watch or listen to the event.

It was held Monday, June 3rd, 2013, and most of us were at work or school.

There is a lot of interest about what the Obama administration had to say about the state of our mental healthcare system and perceptions of mental illness in the United States.

Straight from the White House itself, I bring to you highlights of their press release on the Mental Health Conference:

Who’s in Charge?

The president is calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to launch the national conversation on mental health. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will also be involved.

Increasing awareness, improving care for those that have mental health issues, and improving care for veterans are some of the main goals for this mental health initiative.

Some of the ways they plan to do this:

Expanding Mental Health Coverage

The Affordable Care Act is slated to expand mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections for over 60 million Americans.

Beginning in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny anyone coverage because of a pre-existing mental health condition.

The law currently ensures that new health plans cover preventative benefits without cost sharing, including depression screening for adults and adolescents, and behavioral assessments for children.

Helping Kids with Mental Health Issues

The President’s 2014 Fiscal Year budget includes a $130 million initiative that will help teachers and other influential adults recognize signs of mental illness in students, referring them to help if needed.

The initiative will also support new state-based programs to improve mental health outcomes in young people and will help train 5,000 additional mental health professionals that focus on serving students and young adults.

Improving Veteran Access to Services

Recently, Veterans Affairs hired 1,600 more mental health providers, 300 peer-to-peer specialists, and established 24 pilot programs in nine states where the VA partners with community mental health service providers to increase access.

The capacity of the Crisis Line will be enhanced by 50 percent.

What about the Private Sector?

The government is also partnering with the private sector to increase awareness and resources.

For instance, the National Association of Broadcasters is developing a national public awareness campaign to reduce negative attitudes and perceptions about mental illness.

This will be done through television, radio ads, and social media.

The YMCA is teaching its staff and counselors how to recognize signs of mental illness in children and young adults.

According to the White House, a diverse group of faith organizations have committed to launch conversations about mental health, and medical professionals and foundations all over the country are launching new efforts to make a difference.

Other Highlights

The conference included other highlights such as expert panels and presentations about innovative mental health campaigns.

Panelists included actress Glenn Close, the CEO of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Norman Anderson, and the CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, Gordon H. Smith.

Noteworthy presentations included information about the Love is Louder campaign, the Half of Us campaign, and the Crisis Text Line.

What’s Next?

For more information on the new White House mental health initiatives, please continue to follow this blog.

What do you think about the White House’s Mental Health Conference? Do you think their new mental health initiatives will prove successful? Do you think the government or private sector will do a better job at raising mental health awareness?


Photo Credit: Creative Commons License Steve Jurvetson

What Happened at the White House Mental Health Conference?

Kat Dawkins

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APA Reference
Dawkins, K. (2013). What Happened at the White House Mental Health Conference?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Jun 2013
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