According to a 2020 CDC survey, more than 40% of U.S. adults surveyed during a one week period in June 2020 reported struggling with pandemic-related behavioral health issues; nearly 31% of them reported anxiety or depression; and over one in ten adults seriously considered suicide. Further, a Harris Poll survey found more than 80% of U.S. adults said that, as a result of the pandemic, it was more important than ever to make suicide prevention a national priority; and 73% were more aware of the importance of taking care of their own mental health.
As a national convener, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance)—the nation’s public-private partnership—mobilized diverse sectors to lead the coordinated Mental Health & Suicide Prevention National Response to COVID-19 (National Response). Together, they made mental health a priority like never before ensuring a lasting legacy of mental health and suicide prevention transformation.
By acting and uniting together—across sectors and agencies—they accelerated actionable solutions and emerged stronger than we were going into the pandemic. From adversity came a unique opportunity for the National Response to ensure we changed the trajectory of our country's mental health and suicide prevention efforts.
This historic Steering Committee came to a close at the end of August 2023, but the legacy lives on in the DNA of the Action Alliance by prioritizing and cementing equity, mental health, prevention and early intervention and data into everything we do and how we do it.
Check out the National Response resources in the Resource Library.
Under the direction of its Co-Leads, the National Response Steering Committee guided this work comprised of leaders from academia, business, government, nonprofits, non-governmental organizations, health care, public safety, and media and entertainment.
Dr. Joshua Gordon
Public Sector Co-Lead
Director, National Institute of Mental Health
The collective work has the potential to change the way our country views, treats, and talks about mental health and suicide for generations to come.
Former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy
Private Sector Co-Lead
Founder, The Kennedy Forum
This pandemic will fuel the fire of our country's mental health crisis unless organizations unite in a call to action. There's no more time for debate and discussion–we need all hands on deck to fast track the strategies we know will work.
- Noopur Agarwal*, MBA, Vice President, Social Impact, MTV Entertainment Group, Paramount
- Elisa Arespacochaga, MBA, Vice President, American Hospital Association
- Victor Armstrong, MSW, Vice President of Health Equity and Engagement, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Ms. Heidi Arthur, Chief Campaign Development Officer, Ad Council
- Chief (Ret.) Terrence M. Cunningham*, Deputy Executive Director, International Association of Chiefs of Police
- Chief (Ret.) Otto Drozd III, Executive Secretary, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association
- Arthur Evans, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, American Psychological Association
- Courtney Gallo Hunter, MA, VP, Public Policy and Advocacy, Crisis Text Line
- Robert Gebbia*, MA, Chief Executive Officer, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., BA, Chief Executive Officer, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- Julie Goldstein Grumet, PhD, Vice President and Director of Suicide Prevention Strategy, Education Development Center
- Donna Harris-Aikens, J.D., Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
- Chuck Ingoglia, MSW, President and CEO, National Council for Mental Wellbeing
- Karen Johnson*, MSW, Senior Vice President, Clinical Services and Behavioral Health Compliance Officer, Universal Health Services, Inc.
- CAPT Christopher Jones, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Mark Jones*, PhD, Vice President, Northpoint Recovery
- Andy Keller, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Linda Perryman Evans Presidential Chair, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
- Craig Kramer*, Co-Chair Executive Committee, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
- Charles Lattarulo*, PhD, Global Director, Healthy Minds, American Express
- Saul Levin, MD, Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director, American Psychiatric Association
- John MacPhee, MBA, MPH, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, The Jed Foundation
- Christine L. Malik, Project Manager, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)
- David McFarland*, Chief Executive Officer, DLM Entertainment Group / DLM Impact Partners
- Colleen McHugh, MA, Executive Vice President, American Health Policy Institute; President, Health Care Policy Roundtable LLC
- Richard McKeon, PhD, Senior Advisor 988 and Behavioral Health Crisis Office, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Matthew Miller, PhD, Director for Suicide Prevention, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- April Naturale, PhD, Interim Executive Director for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
- Nyaka NiiLampti*, PhD, Vice President, Wellness and Clinical Services, National Football League
- Rajeev Ramchand, PhD. Senior Behavioral Scientist, RAND Corporation
- Linda Rosenberg*, MSW, Director of External Relations, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University
- Shelby Rowe, MBA, Project Director, Suicide Prevention Resource Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Center on Child Abuse & Neglect
- CAPT Scott Salvatore, U.S. Public Health Service, Lead, Psychological Health, Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Tyiesha Short, MA, Associate Director, Science & Policy, Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Schroeder Stribling, MSW, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health America
- Nia West-Bey, PhD, Director of Youth Policy, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
* Indicates member of Action Alliance Executive Committee
The National Response was focused on six strategic priorities to help transform mental health and suicide prevention nationwide in the wake of the pandemic:
Priority 1: Change the national conversation about mental health and suicide.
Priority 2: Increase access to evidence-based treatments for substance use and mental health disorders in specialty and primary care.
Priority 3: Increase the use of non-punitive and supportive crisis intervention services.
Priority 4: Establish near real-time data collection systems to promptly identify changes in rates of suicide, overdose, and other key events, and of clusters or spikes in these outcomes.
Priority 5: Ensure the equitable delivery of comprehensive and effective suicide prevention and mental health services for Black Americans and others disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Priority 6: Invest in prevention and early intervention that treat the root causes of suicide and mental health problems.