Where Do The U.S. Presidential Candidates Stand On Mental Health?

America votes for its 45th President on November 8th, and most of the country is in a panic.  This campaign season has been filled with scandals, lawsuits, and absurdity. Before you head to the polls next Tuesday, it’s important to know where each of the candidates stand on the issues that matter the most to you.  We’ve heard a lot about domestic and international security, misogyny, and immigration from Clinton and Trump, but other topics have been kept out of the spotlight for most of this race.  Using a site called On The Issues, I gathered up some notes about four presidential candidates’ positions on mental health topics.  Please note that although I have my own political biases, this post is meant to be non-partisan.  It does not include statements made by the running mates of each candidate.

Donald Trump (Republican Party)

Trump has stated several times that he connects gun violence to mental health- he’s said this in January 2016, October 2015, and September 2015.

We have a huge mental health problem in this country. We’re closing hospitals, we’re closing wards, we’re closing so many because the states want to save money. We have to get back into looking at what’s causing it. The guns don’t pull the trigger. It’s the people that pull the trigger and we have to find out what is going on. You get the Congress. You get the Senate. You get together. You do legislation. –Donald Trump

He recently addressed the suicide rate among America’s veterans, and offered a solution.

It’s almost impossible to conceive that this is happening in our country, 20 to 22 people a day are killing themselves. A lot of it is they’re killing themselves over the fact that they’re under tremendous pain and they can’t see a doctor. We’re going to speed up the process. We’re going to create a great mental health division. I have a powerful plan that’s on my website. One of the problems is the wait time. Vets are waiting six days, seven days, eight days. Under my plan, if they have that long wait, they walk outside, they go to the local doctor, they choose the doctor, they choose the hospital, whether it’s public or private, they get themselves better. We will pay the bill. –Donald Trump


Hillary Clinton (Democratic Party)

Although it never came to a vote, Clinton sponsored a bill that would support seniors who struggle with mental health issues in 2005.

It is estimated that nearly 20% of Americans age 55 or older experience a mental disorder. It is anticipated that the number of seniors with mental health problems will increase from 4 million in 1970 to 15 million in 2030. Mental disorders do not have to be a part of the aging process because we have effective treatments for these conditions. But in far too many instances our seniors go undiagnosed and untreated because of the current divide in our country between health care and mental health care.

That is why I am reintroducing the Positive Aging Act. This legislation would strengthen the delivery of mental health services to older Americans. Specifically, the Positive Aging Act would fund grants to states to provide screening and treatment for mental health disorders in seniors. It would also fund demonstration projects to provide these screening and treatment services to older adults residing in rural areas and in naturally occurring retirement communities, NORC’s.

I believe that we owe it to older adults in this country to do all that we can to ensure that high quality mental health care is both available and accessible. This legislation takes an important step in that direction. –Hillary Clinton


Jill Stein (Green Party)

Stein believes that accessible mental healthcare will decrease instances of gun violence.

We have to address the other drivers of community violence. That includes ensuring that mental health services are available to everyone. But in addition, we need to end the culture of drug violence, which also is a major driver of gun violence. So that means legalizing marijuana, because it is a substance which is dangerous because it is illegal, but it’s actually far less dangerous than other legal substances. And to legalize it will go a long way to put an end to the violence surrounding the drug culture. –Jill Stein


Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party)

In 1998, Johnson vetoed HB 315, which would have required employers to cover mental healthcare to the same extent that physical healthcare is covered.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) blasted New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson for his veto of HB 315, which would have established a pilot program for state employees providing coverage for mental illnesses equal to that offered for other physical illnesses. NAMI’s Executive Director said, “By caving in to business’s fear that the pilot would prove parity is indeed cost effective, he put people with severe mental illnesses and their families last, even as state & federal lawmakers around the country move in the direction of equality for people with mental illness. Governor Johnson’s actions are behind the times.” –NAMI press release


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