Mental health

Expanding access to high-quality mental health services

Mental health

Expanding access to high-quality mental health services

At Kaiser Permanente, we provide high-quality mental health and addiction care and services that are tailored to our patients’ social, cultural, and linguistic needs. We work to address the challenges in America’s mental health care system and improve the health and well-being of all the people we care for and serve.

1 in 5 adults has a diagnosable mental illness at any given time(1), 112 people live in a mental-health professional shortage area(2), 59% of youth with major depression didn't get needed care in 2020(3).

We believe in and support the following principles relating to mental health:

  • Coverage: We support a model of health care coverage that recognizes mental health as being equally important as physical health and that is designed to deliver the right mental health and addiction care at the right time, in the right setting.
  • Care: We promote policies that ensure individuals have access to high-quality mental health and addiction care that is safe, timely, effective, equitable, and patient-centered.
  • Expanding the mental health workforce: Many people in the United States — especially those in rural and historically underserved communities — live in areas with shortages of full-time clinicians, especially those who accept insurance. We support policies that increase the size, linguistic capabilities, and diversity of the mental health workforce to meet the needs of all populations.
  • Evidence-based care: The current mental health system does not meet the diverse needs of adults, teenagers, and children. We support policies that standardize quality metrics that evaluate the performance of mental health treatments and practitioners. These can lead to wider deployment of evidence-based care — care based on high-quality scientific research — which is more likely to improve patient outcomes.
  • School-based services: We support policies that provide school personnel and students with access to effective mental health education, training, and evidence-based resources. We also support efforts to work with families, schools, and communities to break cycles of trauma and prevent adverse childhood experiences — traumatic events, such as physical and emotional abuse, that occur before a child turns 18.
  • Defeating stigma: Stigma can be a significant obstacle to recovery, treatment, and societal acceptance for people living with mental health conditions. We support policies that reduce stigma. By bringing mental illness out into the open and creating a culture of acceptance and support, we can encourage people to seek the help and support they need.
  • Crisis services: We support policies that expand crisis services — services that are essential to addressing the care, housing, and social support needs of people experiencing serious mental health episodes and the acute effects of addiction. These policies add funding for state crisis-response teams and 24/7 crisis-support services to prevent emergency department and medical inpatient holds.

 

1 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2019.
2 Yardi Matrix, 2020.
3 Mental Health America, 2021.