The Kennedy Forum Launches Clinton Global Initiative ‘Commitment to Action’ Addressing Youth Mental Health


The parity-focused nonprofit will unite the community of interest to improve access to care

WASHINGTON, September 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Kennedy Forum announced today the launch of its Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment to action, Ensuring Treatment for Adolescent Psychiatry. CGI brings together global and emerging leaders to design and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

The Kennedy Forum (PRNewsfoto/The Kennedy Forum)

The Kennedy Forum and its partners are committed to the Clinton Global Initiative on Adolescent Mental Health

The Forum’s engagement focuses on breaking down insurance barriers that hinder young people’s access to evidence-based mental health treatment services and critical preventive interventions. In the face of warnings from the US Surgeon General and major medical associations – and as mental health challenges among adolescents have escalated significantly during the pandemic – the need for systemic change is greater than ever. And with about half of mental health disorders occurring by age 18 and more than 60% by age 25, a special emphasis on youth-based policies and solutions is both timely and strategic.

In urging the promotion of parity (i.e., equal coverage of mental health and addiction treatment services), the Kennedy Forum will work with Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Inseparable to improve enforcement and inform policymakers about Clarify needed changes and build grassroots support to prioritize youth mental health.

The aim is to address directly the fact that many critical services are rarely covered by insurers: in-school psychiatric therapies, consensus treatment modalities for early psychosis, emergency/crisis response services, routine prevention and early detection services, and key intermediate stages of treatment. In addition, the commitment will address insurers’ low compensation for mental health clinicians, including those caring for adolescents, which leads to inadequate networks. These bottlenecks mean that visits to child mental health facilities are 10.1 times more likely to be off-network than visits to public health departments. Insufficient insurance coverage and higher off-network cost sharing contribute to a huge unmet need. The action plan includes:

  • Create model requirements for commercial mental health and addiction care insurance coverage, including coverage of school-based mental health services
  • Discussions began on creating a billing code for Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) services – an important step towards facilitating coverage
  • Integrate mobile crisis response service coverage into model state requirements related to 988
  • Identify additional states to target with advocacy efforts
  • Convene an industry council to focus on school-based mental health and develop specific solutions from an industry perspective
  • Convene organizations to begin work on preventive standards for child mental health care
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“As a society, we’ve made great strides in reducing stigma,” said Amy L. Kennedy, former educator and director of the Kennedy Forum’s youth mental health effort. “But we still haven’t built the infrastructure we need to successfully treat – and prevent – ​​mental health problems, particularly among adolescents. With this commitment to action, the Kennedy Forum is redoubling its efforts to drive change. We are grateful to the Clinton Global Initiative for recognizing this great societal need and helping improve our work.”

“Our young people are in a mental crisis. They were in a crisis before the pandemic and the data clearly shows that their needs have increased significantly over the past two and a half years,” said MHA President and CEO Schroeder Stribling. “We must meet the needs of the next generation with all the urgency, resources and compassion that we can muster. The provision of universal prevention services alongside accessible, effective, and culturally competent treatment and recovery support is essential. The Commitment to Action outlines a clear and workable path to parity of mental health services in insurance coverage. Mental health care is health care, and the mental wellbeing of our youth is a matter of urgency to the public health of our nation.”

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“The pandemic has taken a severe toll on the mental health of our young people, and all of us, including the nation’s insurers, have a responsibility to ensure our youth have access to the mental health care they need,” said Daniel H. Gillison Jr., CEO of NAMI. “We are proud to participate in this commitment to action, which will focus on concrete solutions to the adolescent mental health crisis.”

“If we are to reverse America’s youth mental health crisis, we must meet our youth and their families where they are — in their communities, their schools, through the health care system and with effective crisis response programs. Inseparable is proud to support the commitment of Patrick Kennedy and the Kennedy Forum, and we work to break down the barriers to care that so many of our youth face every day.” – Bill Smith, Founder, Inseparable

The Kennedy Forum stands ready to support the 2022 CGI Commitment with tools such as Don’t Deny Me, a campaign to educate consumers and providers about patient rights under the Federal Parity Act; ParityRegistry.org, which allows people to register complaints about their health plans and learn to appeal; ParityTrack.org, where policymakers and advocates can track parity legislative, regulatory and legal activities across all 50 states and at the federal level to monitor implementation and best practices; and the Parity State Workgroup, a monthly gathering of 200 members from national and state organizations.

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About the Kennedy Forum

Through the Kennedy Forum, Patrick and Amy Kennedy are leading a national dialogue to achieve systemic reform of the U.S. healthcare system by advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programs for the prevention and treatment of brain disorders—particularly mental health and addiction. Since our inception in 2013, we have demonstrated our unique ability to bring together mental health advocates, business leaders, healthcare plans and government agencies. Over the past decade, we have already improved access to care for people with brain disorders by filling a solution gap at both the grassroots and system levels. To learn more about the Kennedy Forum, please visit www.thekennedyforum.org.

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) brings together global and emerging leaders to design and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI works with partners to drive action through its unique model. Rather than implementing projects directly, CGI facilitates action by helping members connect, collaborate, and develop commitments to action—new, specific, and measurable plans that address global challenges. Through CGI, the community has made more than 3,700 action commitments that have transformed the lives of more than 435 million people in more than 180 countries. Learn more here.

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