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We stand together for more support for health professionals and first responders

In 2020, only 46% of Americans ages 18+ living with a mental health condition received treatment in the previous year.

There is a critical shortage of mental health care providers across the country. All too often, the combination of high turnover and systems that silo mental health services results in less access to care for patients, high burnout rates among providers, and long waits for necessary treatment. Research also shows that both healthcare professionals and first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, are at an elevated risk for suicide.

AFSP understands the urgent need to incentivize mental health professionals to practice in provider shortage areas and ensure that services are accessible by underserved populations. It’s vital that we support those who care for us, and decrease their own risk of suicide, while requiring suicide-specific training to equip them with the skills and confidence to intervene when they recognize signs of a mental health crisis in the general public, themselves, and their peers.

Below are several bills that AFSP supports:

This bill would establish a grant program to assist hospitals screen emergency department patients for risk of suicide, and to connect at-risk patients with mental health treatments and services. (S.467/H.R.1324)

This bill would extend death and disability benefits to officers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or acute stress disorder following a stressful or traumatic experience while on duty. (S.3635/H.R.6943)

This bill would establish new behavioral health programs for public safety officers. It would require FEMA to create resources for educating mental health care providers about treating firefighters and emergency medical services personnel, and direct HHS to develop best practices and resources for identifying, preventing, and treating post-traumatic stress disorder and co-occurring disorders in public safety officers. It would also establish a grant program to fund peer support programs and create a new system to report data on suicide among public safety officers. (S.2700)

This bill authorizes a new student loan repayment program for mental and behavioral health care professionals who commit to working in an area lacking accessible care. (S.1578/H.R.3150)

This bill would provide Medicare coverage of peer support services for individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorders who are being treated in primary care and receiving integrated behavioral health services. (S.2144/H.R.2767)

This bill would provide coverage of marriage and family therapist services and mental health counselor services under Medicare. Despite mental health workforce shortages, neither marriage and family therapists nor licensed mental health counselors are recognized by Medicare. (S.828/H.R.432)

This bill establishes and expands programs to address racial and ethnic disparities in mental health. Specifically, it would create grant opportunities for interprofessional behavioral health care teams in areas with a high proportion of racial and ethnic minority groups, and to incorporate best practices and competencies to address mental health disparities in curricula for training health professionals. It would also require HHS to promote behavioral and mental health and reduce stigma associated with mental health conditions and substance use disorder through outreach to racial and ethnic minority groups. (S.1795/H.R.1475)



You can personally play an important role in demanding #MoreForMentalHealth, and championing the cause of more support for health providers and first responders. Bring this and other mental health topics up when talking with others in your community, or share a message or one of our images on social media – you can even use our custom graphic tool to personalize it! – to spark an important conversation, and encourage your friends, family, and coworkers to help spread the word.

I Demand More Provider Support For Mental Health

AFSP has local chapters in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, working to educate and provide support and resources to those around them. Visit your local chapter to find out what’s planned in your community, and join the raised voices of thousands of volunteers and advocates to demand #MoreForMentalHealth.

Visit AFSP’s Action Center to learn more about the federal bills AFSP supports related to support for mental health providers and first responders. Sign up to become an AFSP mental health and suicide prevention advocate, and join 40,000+ other passionate advocates dedicated to changing the culture around mental health.

Christine Yu Moutier

Why I Fight: Preventing Physician Suicide, and the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider

By Christine Yu Moutier, M.D., AFSP Chief Medical Officer & Natalie Tietjen, AFSP Manager, Federal Policy

Christine Yu Moutier

We must prioritize the mental health of our frontline medical professionals who are caring for some of our most vulnerable patients, and encourage help-seeking behaviors for mental health concerns and substance use disorders by reducing stigma, increasing resources, and having open conversations about mental health.