Updated Sep 22, 2022 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on the nation's mental health crisis

On Thursday, September 22nd, Axios health care editor Tina Reed and health care reporter Caitlin Owens led conversations discussing the growing mental health crisis in the U.S.. Guests included HHS assistant secretary for mental health and substance use Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon and Mental Health America president and CEO Schroeder Stribling.

Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon discussed the increasing rates of anxiety and depression in America resulting from the pandemic and how the new 988 lifeline is expanding access to crisis services and mental health support.

  • On the 988 lifeline: “When we compare this past August to a year ago August, we actually see a 45% increase in calls, texts and chats. So that lets us know people are reaching out, you know, 45% increase, it is amounted to over 150,000 additional calls, texts and chats that have come in. So that’s a significant increase, and we appreciate that people are reaching out and getting the support they need for their mental health or substance use related challenges.”
  • On increasing substance use and overdose rates: “When we look at the overdose data, what we find is that all communities, all age groups are impacted. Unfortunately, it is across the board. When we drill down a little bit further, we do see increases in terms of African American individuals. So we see some spikes there in terms of increased overdose rates, and we also see high overdose rates within Native American communities as well, and so soon actually we’ll be releasing our tribal opioid response grants and our state opioid response grants.”

Schroeder Stribling explained some of the biggest social determinants of mental health conditions and the benefits and remaining challenges surrounding the rollout of 988.

  • On social determinants of mental health: “So social determinants of mental health could be anything in one’s environment which either puts you at risk for the development of a mental health condition or exacerbates an existing mental health condition. So for instance, housing instability, food insecurity, access to transportation, access to health care and mental health care itself, and parity in mental health care, which is part of access. All of those are social determinants.”
  • On challenges to 988 hotline infrastructure: “The basics of 988 are this idea that when someone’s in crisis you have someone to call, and sometimes a call is all you need…but also someone to come and help you, and the right person to come, so rather than a police officer, maybe a peer or a social worker or other support people, and then, if necessary, somewhere to go as the third step. And that’s where we need to think about the development of an adequate network of crisis stabilization centers in the various states. So there’s a lot more work left to be done. Some states are quite well prepared with that infrastructure, others are still working on it.”

In the View from the Top segment, CVS Health president of behavioral health and mental well-being Cara McNulty highlighted the rise in adolescents suffering from mental health impacts following disruptions to everyday life brought on by the pandemic.

  • “We did a recent survey that looked at teachers and parents, and what we found is 76% of teachers feel that adolescents are suffering, their mental health is suffering. Where, in contrast, about 50% of parents felt their adolescents and young adults were experiencing some mental health disruption. But then on the other side, what we see is young adults and adolescents are going to their teachers and they're talking to their teachers about their mental health and how it’s impacting them, and when you think about that, it’s really important we have a place and space for our young adults and our adolescents to seek help…”

Thank you CVS Health for sponsoring this event.

If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat with someone at 988lifeline.org. En Español.

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