Good morning. Thank you, Members of the Senate Finance Committee, for inviting me to speak today on the critical topic of ensuring that behavioral health services are accessible to people residing in the United States. Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Crapo, you have both been leaders on this pressing issue, and I am hopeful that your bipartisan commitment to advancing solutions will lead to progress.
I am Reggie Williams, and I lead the International Health Policy and Practice Innovations Program at the Commonwealth Fund. I also co-lead our work on behavioral health, which includes a focus on mental health and substance use.
For over 10 years, I have also volunteered my time in the mental health community — currently serving on the boards of the Youth Mental Health Project and Fountain House and, in the past, chairing the board of directors of Mental Health America. My focus has been on improving the systems — or lack thereof — that people and families are forced to navigate to achieve the lives they want to live.
I testify today not only as someone who has spent more than 20 years in health policy but also as a Black man who strives to manage his own mental health — and as someone who has personally witnessed the impacts of mental health and substance use on my family, friends, coworkers, and my greater community.
There is a behavioral health crisis in the United States. When I say behavioral health, I mean the promotion of mental health, resilience, and wellbeing; the prevention, early identification, and treatment of mental illness and substance use; and the support of those who experience and/or are in recovery from these conditions, along with their families and communities.