May 21, 2024


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This observance is an opportunity for the health care community, mental health advocates, policymakers and employers to acknowledge the need for greater support of mental health and substance-use disorder services – and to drive action.

This month, Protecting Americans’ Coverage Together (PACT), a coalition of employer voices committed to strengthening employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), is joining organizations across the country to increase awareness and advocate for meaningful policy solutions that prioritizes the health and well-being of Americans living with mental health challenges.

Earlier this year, PACT released a set of reforms to strengthen and modernize the mental health system in America. These ideas build on the actions that employers have been taking to invest in better mental health care and wellness.

The COVID-19 pandemic not only exacerbated the ongoing mental health challenges faced by Americans, but it brought to light the shortfalls in care. Since then, these challenges have evolved and become more prevalent, underscoring the importance of this month’s recognition. Fortunately, many American employers have acknowledged their critical role in providing robust mental and behavioral health care for its employees and their family members.

While employers are making important investments to address their employees’ needs, it’s critical that policymakers provide support to the millions of Americans that need it right now. In March, PACT shared its mental health policy recommendations with key decisionmakers in the White House and in Congress. These recommendations include:

  • Expanding Access with Telehealth: The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the necessity, and significant value, of telehealth services. While lockdowns and other restrictions have since been lifted, barriers to mental health care – such as geographical distance and workforce shortages – remain, emphasizing the continued importance of access to telehealth care. Members of the PACT coalition are seeking to cement telehealth access by making permanent several pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities.
  • Strengthening the Mental Health Care Provider Workforce: As demand for mental health care services increases, the most significant hurdle faced by many is the shortage of providers, particularly in underserved and rural areas. Under current conditions, this shortage is likely to worsen as many existing providers approach retirement or experience burnout. PACT acknowledges that to meaningfully address mental health challenges, it is critical to strengthen and grow the provider workforce.
  • Better Integrating Mental and Physical Health Care: Providers, employers and patients have all acknowledged that mental, behavioral and physical health conditions are often interrelated. By better integrating care for mental and physical conditions, providers and insurers can reduce unnecessary costs, strengthen individuals’ overall health and reduce stigma around mental health conditions. Under a more holistic model, individuals and their families can receive more effective care.

As we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month this May, employers are reinforcing their commitment to strengthening mental and behavioral health services for their workforce. PACT members look forward to working with lawmakers and other key policymakers to enhance and expand mental health care services and accessibility.

American employers, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, Council for Affordable Health Coverage and Vermeer Corporation, will continue their work to prioritize employees’ mental and physical wellness in May, and year-round.

About the authors

Protecting Americans’ Coverage Together (PACT)

The Protecting Americans’ Coverage Together (PACT) is a coalition of leading business voices that are dedicated to strengthening the support of ESI for families that depend on this system for the physical and mental well-being. Its members include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, Council for Affordable Health Coverage, and Vermeer Corporation.

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