Kamala Harris has declared that “In 2020, mental health care justice is on the ballot.”
The Democratic Presidential candidate announced Monday (Nov. 25) a new plan centered on providing “mental health on demand,” according to her campaign website.
Harris made the announcement during a speech in Berkeley County, South Carolina, where native “Charlamagne tha God,” a co-host on the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” helped to unveil the plans, the Associated Press reports.
The radio personality has been candid about his struggles with mental health in his book Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me.
“We have failed when it comes to policy solutions for Americans struggling with mental health,” Harris said in a press release, MSN reports. “Too often we only focus on health care from the neck down, and we need to ensure we are addressing health care from the neck up.”
According to the Associated Press, highlights of the plan include doubling the number of treatment beds available and increasing access to virtual mental health counseling.
“My plan will deliver mental health care on demand and get care for all Americans who need it by removing obstacles like high copays and deductibles, providing direct access to providers via telemedicine, and investing research dollars into public health challenges facing our veterans,” Harris stated in the press release.
Priority states for increasing mental health treatment beds, as released by Harris’ campaign, include South Carolina, Iowa, and Nevada, which are all early voting states, as well as the key swing state of Michigan, the Associated Press reports.
Some things her plan is missing include price tags and details on what it would cost to double the number of treatment beds or cover her other proposals. However, it does propose a $100 million fund for Native American communities to address mental health, according to the Associated Press.
“Instead of letting people silently suffer from depression, from drug addiction, from suicidal thoughts, we need to bring this out of the shadow and discuss it and put resources into it, get rid of the stigma,” the California senator told a crowd in Iowa earlier this month, the Associated Press reports.
Harris’ plan also includes doubling research dollars for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to focus on post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other drivers of mental illness.
She would also direct federal agencies focused on mental health to collect better data on people facing mental illness and reclassify certain disorders, such as schizophrenia, to improve access to treatment, the Associated Press reports.
Additionally, Harris has included loan forgiveness in the plan specific to mental health workers who go to areas facing provider shortages, the Associated Press reports.
The expansion of mental health care in America isn’t the only thing Harris is talking about lately.
She’s also been vocal about fellow Democratic Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg’s recent comparison of Black Americans’ struggles to the LGBTQ community, Fox News reports.
Harris was referring to Buttigieg’s comments during the Democratic debate in Atlanta when he said, “I do not have the experience of ever having been discriminated against because of the color of my skin. I do have the experience of sometimes feeling like a stranger in my own country.”
On Tuesday (Nov. 26), she appeared on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” and said he should have known better than to try and compare the struggle of two historically marginalized groups, Fox News reports.
“For those of us who have been active in the civil rights community for a long time, it’s just really well-known that we don’t compare struggles … it’s not productive,” she said on the show, Fox News reports.
“It works against what has always been the strength of the civil rights movement,” Harris continued. “And that is the coalition building. That is the work that we do, recognizing the history and the struggle that each has.”