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Trump signs executive order establishing coronavirus mental health working group

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Mary Margaret Olohan on October 5, 2020

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Saturday aimed at “saving lives” of those suffering from mental and behavioral health needs, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Through the executive order issued Monday morning, Trump called for more crisis-intervention services to those in “immediate life-threatening situations,” and encouraged increased availability of continuing care after crises, nurture mentorship programs, expanded availability of telehealth, and more.

“The pandemic has also exacerbated mental- and behavioral-health conditions as a result of stress from prolonged lockdown orders, lost employment, and social isolation,” the executive order says.

“Survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that during the last week of June, 40.9 percent of Americans struggled with mental-health or substance-abuse issues and 10.7 percent reported seriously considering suicide,” the order continues. “We must enhance the ability of the Federal Government, as well as its State, local, and Tribal partners, to appropriately address these ongoing mental- and behavioral-health concerns.”

The order establishes a Coronavirus Mental Health Working Group (Working Group) intended to facilitate a government response to mental health conditions exacerbated by the pandemic. This includes issues related to suicide prevention, the order notes.

“The Working Group will be co-chaired by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, or his designee, and the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, or her designee,” the order said.

“The Working Group shall be composed of representatives from the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Education, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Small Business Administration, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and such representatives of other executive departments, agencies, and offices as the Co‑Chairs may, from time to time, designate with the concurrence of the head of the department, agency, or office concerned,” the executive order stated.

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