Today, First Lady Melania Trump joined a call with approximately 3,000 state, local, and tribal officials, along with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and other federal officials, to continue the dialogue on the Administration’s response to COVID-19. Discussion topics included implementation of the CARES Act, updates from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and updates about other federal policies affected by COVID-19.
This conversation followed a call that the First Lady had with our nation’s Governors earlier in the week with the President and Vice President, which addressed the toll and emotional hardship that the virus has caused for our nation’s citizens and children.
First Lady Melania Trump opened today’s call by highlighting the need for supporting our most vulnerable and families with necessary mental health resources needed to ensure the physical safety and well-being of children around the nation.
The First Lady’s Be Best initiative has taken an active role in addressing the impact COVID-19 has on children and families. Be Best has highlighted countless well-being programs that provide children with the tools and skills required for emotional, social, and physical health.
During this difficult time, Be Best has also recognized the effects coronavirus has on those suffering from substance abuse. “We can protect children from the deadly effects of opioid addiction and overdose by helping the adults in their lives get the support they need without turning to drugs or suicide,” said First Lady Melania Trump.
The First Lady went on to discuss the increase in resources the Trump Administration has provided to support mental health. “Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the rest of HHS have worked around the clock to release approximately $700 million over the last few months to provide communities with resources to expand and develop mental health programs. These programs range from suicide prevention to substance use disorders to serious mental illness.”
The First Lady’s remarks concluded by providing encouragement and support to the State and local officials, telling them that “your voices are powerful, and your actions can give courage to people who are struggling. I hope we can all continue the conversation about mental health and well-being, and make it as much of a priority as physical health and safety.”
As we begin to safely re-open our country and adjust to new changes in our daily lives, I invite you to join the conversation about mental health and how we can partner with each of your states to support all Americans – especially children.
One of the three pillars of my BE BEST initiative is “well-being,” which focuses on children’s emotional, social, and physical health.
Whether in quarantine or on the front lines of the fight against the virus, many Americans – including children – are experiencing an increase in anxiety, depression, loneliness, isolation, and fear.
This Administration has increased resources to support mental health and well-being, which I shared with the nation’s Governors this past Monday.
SAMHSA and the rest of HHS have worked around the clock to release approximately $700 million over the last few months to provide communities with resources to expand and develop mental health programs. These programs range from suicide prevention to substance use disorders to serious mental illness.
I encourage you to make use of these resources – and work with us to remove any stigma around these issues by continuing the conversation in your communities.
In addition, we can help protect children from the deadly effects of opioid addiction and overdose by helping the adults in their lives get the support they need without turning to drugs or suicide. This is another priority of BE BEST, as I know it is for many of you.
I also encourage you to make sure that children are not overlooked during this crisis.
Right now, because of social distancing guidelines, many children do not have regular in-person contact with teachers, childcare providers, and other adults who are often the first to report suspected child abuse.
On Monday, I asked Governors to designate child welfare staff as first responders so that these critical workers have access to Personal Protective Equipment when face-to-face intervention is needed to protect a child’s physical health during the coronavirus pandemic.
As state and local leaders, there are many ways that you can show strong leadership on mental health awareness. I ask that you look for opportunities to educate the members of your communities about mental health issues, and support people with mental illnesses through community and support groups.
I encourage you to connect people in your communities to help, and strengthen the connections between mental health, substance abuse, disability, and other social services.
Your voices are powerful, and your actions can give courage to people who are struggling. I hope we can all continue the conversation about mental health and wellbeing, and make it as much of a priority as physical health and safety.
Together, we need to make sure that America’s most fragile – our children – are not overlooked during this crisis, and that they are both seen and heard by caring adults who can help them thrive.