This Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s shift from self care to system change

May 14, 2023

By: Vincent Atchity

It seems one of the few things that 90 percent of Americans will agree on these days is that we are in the midst of a mental health crisis. So, how can we translate this sentiment into concrete actions that improve mental health?

With Mental Health Awareness Month underway, there will surely be no shortage of articles promoting meditation apps, vacations and calming breath techniques. While individual-level interventions are necessary, they alone cannot achieve sustainable progress. It’s imperative that we shift our status quo away from its current web of policies and norms that neglect and penalize individuals who have mental health and substance use needs.

As the CEO of Mental Health Colorado, I lead our national Care Not Cuffs initiative to disentangle these needs from the criminalization system. Without adequate systems of care, we default to crisis response; too often, this entails arrest and processing through the criminal court system. This is precisely how prisons and jails became the primary mental health and addiction facilities in the U.S., even though they aren’t designed or staffed to meet those needs.

Read the full article in The Hill