Legislators Unite in Effort to Address Psychological Illnesses Around the World

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On Friday, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Representatives Susan Wild (D-PA-7) and Joe Wilson (R-SC-2) 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.

“I’m proud to work with Representative Wild to introduce this legislation to prioritize mental health around the world,” 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.”

“Nearly one billion people around the world suffer from a mental health issue or substance use disorder, and members of vulnerable populations who have experienced conflict or disruption—particularly children—are at disproportionate risk,” said Rep. Susan Wild. “This crisis could not be more urgent. By integrating mental health and psychosocial support into every aspect of U.S. assistance, the MINDS Act would mark a critical step toward building the future we need—one in which these critical services are there for all those who need them.”

“The effects of mental illness can be devastating, particularly on children growing up in areas of conflict and poverty,” Rep. Wilson said. “It is critical to take a proactive approach to ensure that U.S. foreign assistance is utilized effectively to help those who are most vulnerable. I am grateful to join my bicameral colleagues Sen. Casey and Rep. Wild in co-leading this legislation promoting positive mental health, stability, and responsible use of taxpayer-funded foreign assistance.”

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One billion people worldwide experience 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 cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and John Fetterman (D-PA).

The MINDS Act is cosponsored in the House by Representatives Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Dina Titus (D-NV).

The MINDS Act is endorsed by American Academy of Pediatrics, The Borgen Project, Catholic Relief Services, ChildFund International, Childhood Education International, Columbia University’s Global Mental Health Lab, Global Campaign for Education – U.S., InterAction, International Rescue Committee, Jesuit Refugee Service – U.S., Mennonite Central Committee – U.S., Project HOPE, Save the Children, Sesame Workshop, The Two Lilies Fund, UNICEF USA, and World Vision.

Read more about the MINDS Act here

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