Reps. Katko, Napolitano, Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Reduce Shortage of Mental Health Professionals

May 1, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Standing on the steps of the United States Capitol, U.S. Reps. John Katko (NY-24) and Grace Napolitano (CA-32) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to increase the number of mental healthcare professionals throughout the United States. H.R. 2431, The Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Repayment Act of 2019, aims to increase the number of mental healthcare professionals practicing in underserved communities by authorizing a loan repayment program for those who work in an area with a lack of accessible care.

“With only one third of those with a mental illness receiving mental healthcare treatment, Americans require better access to trained mental healthcare professionals. It is imperative we create a sustainable workforce of therapists, psychologists, and counselors who can meet the mental healthcare needs of the nation,” said Rep. Katko. “This legislation incentivizes mental healthcare professionals to practice in underserved communities, improving access to treatment and improving the quality of care. I am grateful to once again collaborate with my Co-Chair Congresswoman Napolitano in introducing this critical legislation.”

“There is a national shortage of trained mental health professionals, and we must do all we can to address it,” Rep. Napolitano said. “The California Future Health Workforce Commission has stated that without dramatic policy changes by 2030, ‘California will have 41% fewer psychiatrists and 11% fewer psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical counselors, and social workers than needed.’ We have no time to waste. We need robust investment in mental health in America. I am proud to join my great Co-Chair, Congressman Katko in introducing this legislation to offer future mental health professionals and clinicians the opportunity to have their educational loans forgiven with their commitment to provide life-saving services to our communities.”

“The American Psychological Association commends Reps. Katko and Napolitano for introducing this critically needed legislation to help expand access to mental health services for the 115.4 million Americans living in geographical areas without adequate access to mental health care. Additional federal support for behavioral health workforce training programs is needed to meet the growing demand for psychologists in the United States, which is expected to increase significantly by 2030. This legislation represents a significant step by providing incentives for highly qualified behavioral health providers to work in communities where services are most needed," said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association.

“The American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) sincerely thanks Reps. John Katko and Grace Napolitano on their reintroduction of the “Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Relief Act of 2019.”  This important bill is a much-needed, creative approach to begin addressing the severe workforce shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals, through student loan relief," said Karen Dineen Wagner, MD, PhD, President of the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

“The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention thanks Reps. John Katko and Grace Napolitano for championing  suicide prevention and access to mental health services,” said John H. Madigan Jr., Senior Vice President and Chief Public Policy Officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.. “This legislation will address two key challenges – the shortage of trained mental health professionals and the cost of getting mental health education and training. One of the best ways to prevent suicide is to make mental health services accessible to all who need them wherever they live or work. An expanded mental health treatment workforce will go a long way in dealing effectively with the current suicide crisis in our country," said John H. Madigan Jr., Senior Vice President and Chief Public Policy Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention/SPAN USA

Reps. Katko and Napolitano serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus. Together, they spearhead initiatives in Congress to raise awareness for mental illness, increase prevention, and advocate for better treatment practices.