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1 billion people around the world suffer from a mental health or substance use disorder

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Mental Health in International Development and Humanitarian Settings (MINDS) Act to improve global mental health outcomes. The legislation would codify the role of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Coordinator for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) and establish a MHPSS working group to promote best practices in U.S. foreign assistance programming. U.S. Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL-22) and Joe Wilson (R-SC-2) are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Addressing mental health needs is especially important as we reckon with the effects of COVID-19 on communities around the world, especially communities already at conflict. This legislation would aim to reverse those trends and prioritize mental health support through USAID,” said Senator Casey. “Investing in the mental health and well-being of children ensures that they continue to thrive into adulthood and can help break cycles of poverty and violence and further their country’s future potential. We must do everything we can to support young people facing mental health challenges to positively change the trajectories of young lives.”

“The mental health needs around the world have never been greater—particularly for those who were already facing significant adversity before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Deutch. "We need a government-wide mental health and psychosocial support strategy that recognizes the importance of mental health in U.S. foreign assistance. This bill will help to meet the urgent mental health needs of the communities we are aiming to help, especially as those communities recover from COVID-19, and ensure every U.S. foreign assistance dollar is going towards impactful humanitarian aid and sustainable development.”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 billion people worldwide experienced mental health or substance use disorders. Two thirds of the world’s children currently live in states affected by conflict, posing a substantial risk to the long-term mental and physical health of our world’s next generation. The MINDS Act would improve inter-agency coordination on MHPSS programming across regions, and would ensure that programming is evidence-based and culturally competent.

The MINDS Act is endorsed by Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office, Heartland Alliance International, American Academy of Pediatrics, The Borgen Project, Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, RISE Institute, Heartland Alliance International, Save the Children, UNICEF USA and World Vision.

Read more about the MINDS Act here.