President Trump Signs Mental Health Executive Order

David Brust, Class of 2022, Belmont Law

On October 5, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order to address “ongoing mental- and behavioral-health concerns” magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the order, President Trump stated his Administration’s goals are to prevent suicide, end the opioid crisis, and improve mental and behavioral health. The order was signed after a Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey showed that over the last week of June 2020, “40.9 percent of Americans struggled with mental-health or substance-abuse issues and 10.7 percent reported seriously considering suicide.” Overall, the order makes five calls for action to:

(1) provide “crisis-intervention services to treat those in immediate life-threatening situations;”

(2) increase “the availability of and access to quality continuing care” following the resolution of the initial crisis “to improve behavioral-health outcomes;”

(3) “permit and encourage” mentorship and support groups;

(4) increase the availability of telehealth, online mental-health resources, and online substance use resources; and

(5) “marshal public and private resources to address deteriorating mental health, such as factors that contribute to prolonged unemployment and social isolation.”

In addition to the above calls for action the order also established the Coronavirus Mental Health Working Group. This group is tasked with facilitating “an ‘all-of-government’ response to the mental-health conditions induced or exacerbated by the pandemic.” This includes suicide prevention issues and a focus on the populations most vulnerable to the pandemic. Furthermore, the group must submit to President Trump, within 45 days, an outline of a plan to improve service coordination between public and private players to help individuals in crisis receive treatment and recovery services. Lastly, the order provides grant funding to states and organizations that “permit in-person treatment and recovery support activities for mental and behavioral health.”


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