On Monday, September 11th, 2023, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm traveled to San Diego, California to highlight the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to address access to mental health services and increase support for substance use disorder. During her trip she visited health facilities dedicated to incorporating mental health care into primary care and participated in a roundtable on youth mental health with Congressman Scott Peters (CA-50) and local students from Bernardo Heights Middle School and Rancho Bernardo High School.
During the roundtable at Bernardo Heights, the Deputy Secretary listened to the needs and priorities of students and shared information about existing federal mental health resources including those available through the STANDUP Act. The STANDUP Act was signed into law by President Biden in March 2022. The students emphasized the importance of ending the stigma surrounding mental health and discussed the range of struggles they deal with from not knowing where to turn in a crisis to the stress and fear brought on by gun violence.
Later in the day, Deputy Secretary Palm toured San Ysidro Health, a certified community behavioral health clinic which provides high quality, compassionate, accessible and affordable health care services. During her visit, the Deputy Secretary met with San Ysidro Health leadership and reiterated HHS’ commitment to support organizations providing treatment for those seeking support for substance use disorders or in recovery. San Ysidro shared about their patient-centered approach to care and their goal of reducing health disparities by addressing social determinants of health. The Deputy Secretary then toured one of their facilities where she saw the beginnings of their employee wellness center, a space made possible with funding by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Addressing the mental health and substance use crises is a top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration, and part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda. The Administration has invested $3.6 billion through the American Rescue Plan and more than $800 million through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in SAMHSA grant programs as part of President Biden’s comprehensive efforts to improve access to mental health care, prevent overdoses, and save lives. These investments enabled the expansion of lifesaving prevention, treatment, and recovery support services in communities throughout the country, including the transition to 988 Lifeline in July 2022.
For her third event of the day, Deputy Secretary Palm traveled to Family Health Centers San Diego (FHCSD), one of the nation’s ten largest federal qualified health clinics. At FHCSD, the Deputy Secretary participated in a roundtable discussion about efforts to improve the nation’s healthcare workforce. FHCSD spoke on their innovative approaches to addressing the workforce shortage and the ways they are using HHS grants to implement their residency and family medicine programs.
In July 2023, HHS announced the launch of the HHS Health Workforce Initiative. The goal of this historic program is to support, strengthen, and grow the health workforce by leveraging programs across the Department, including through the $2.7 billion workforce investment proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget for HRSA workforce training, scholarship, loan repayment and well-being programs.
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Last revised: September 18, 2023