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Presidential Hopeful Pete Buttigieg Creates Plan to Directly Tackle America’s Mental Health Crisis

Pete Buttigieg bites his lips, presumably to keep from laughing at how bad Jacob Wohl is at crime.

It is a scary time to be alive. From the ever-present threat of mass shootings to the looming danger of the climate crisis, the world is an overwhelming place. That’s what makes Democratic Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg’s new mental health plan that he unveiled today so important.

As part of a plan to fight the opioid crisis, Buttigieg spoke about how the crisis is part of a larger, nationwide struggle with mental health and substance abuse. “For hundreds of thousands of us, it is a matter of life and death. For all of us, it is a matter of our happiness and well-being, because we live with these illnesses or may in the future, or because we know someone who does,” Buttigieg said in his plan, which you can read here. His plan centers around fighting stigma, making healthcare accessible, and equipping schools and students with the tools they need to fight for better mental healthcare.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Buttigieg said “we can’t pretend there’s no health consequences to what’s going on in the White House.”  As migrant children are kept in cages, as there seems to be no end in sight for gun violence, and as the White House is content to sit by as climate disaster (and now potential economic disaster) looms, it’s easy to see how the current political climate has negatively impacted the mental health of Americans, particularly young Americans or members of groups that are targeted by the White House.

Buttigieg writes on his site:

“Overdose deaths are spiking among Black people, on whose backs the current broken system that criminalizes mental illness and addiction was built during the crack epidemic of the 1980s. Native Americans experience post-traumatic stress disorder twice as often as the general population. LGBTQ youth are almost five times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide. Young Americans report being lonelier than any other age group. Among Latinx people, mental health and overall health has deteriorated significantly under the current Administration.And 20 veterans and active service members die by suicide each day, the most shameful indicator of just how badly our nation has failed those who have given so much to our country. This crisis of pain and despair is not one unique to whiteness; it is one that is distinctly American.”

This isn’t just about mental health in white, privileged groups. This is about the country’s mental health. As we continue down the path we are currently on, things seem to get worse and worse with every passing day. Buttigieg is recognizing that this is a problem that is, indeed, American, especially as our country grapples with the ever-present threat of more mass shootings since our politicians seem content to not do anything to curb the violence.

Those of us who struggle with mental health deserve to have candidates who care about our health and are pushing for stronger support and assistance for those in need. Buttigieg’s latest plan should draw more positive attention to his bid for the nomination, and I hope other candidates follow suit and similarly take a stand to protect Americans in this fashion.

(image: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

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Kate (she/her) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions she has. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, she is now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for her favorite rare pairs.