In her continued bid to act like this is a regular election season where we talk about actual policy issues, Hillary Clinton released a proposed plan Monday to improve mental health treatment. The plan includes launching a national suicide prevention initiative and better training police officers to deal with people in the middle of mental health crises.
This is the bizarre place where we find ourselves: Donald Trump is implying that Clinton has a traumatic brain injury and demanding that she release medical records (she already has), in between yelling vague campaign promises about greatness. Clinton has to balance between denouncing Trump and the actual Twitter Neo-Nazis who support him and trying to talk about real policy goals. It’s like trying to get people to sign your petition while standing in the middle of an actual three-ring circus, a crazed elephant delicately poised to stomp all over your clipboard.
Nonetheless, Clinton announced a sweeping mental health agenda, which intersects with criminal justice policies in an interesting way. The plan calls for training law enforcement officers in “crisis intervention,” as well as “prioritizing treatment over jail for low-level offenders.” She’s pledging new money to help train police “in responding to conflicts involving persons with mental illness, and increase grant funding to support law enforcement partnerships with mental health professionals.” The campaign says it will also increase federal investment in things like drug and veterans’ courts, both of which try to divert people into rehab and other forms of treatment and away from jail. In a Clinton administration, the plan says, the Attorney General will tell federal prosecutors to prioritize treatment over incarceration for non-violent offenders.
The plan also calls for better enforcing of the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act, which directed that insurance providers cover mental health and substance abuse treatments the same way they do medical and surgical ones. It’s a topic that’s really important to mental health advocates, and it shows that the Clinton campaign has been talking to actual experts in the field about what they need. (It’s also something Clinton has advocated for since the ‘90s.)
The full initiative is laid out in a fact sheet. It’s very impressive, and would be backed by a White House conference on mental health in Clinton’s first year in office, she says.
Meanwhile, Republicans, here’s your guy: