HCN News & Notes

State Sen. John Velis Appointed to National Mental-health Task Force

BOSTON — This week, state Sen. John Velis will attend the first conference of a national task force focused on informing state- and federal-level mental-health policy. Velis was appointed to the task force by the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in recognition of his leadership and work as vice chair of the Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery Committee this past session.

“I am honored to represent Massachusetts on this national task force and look forward to collaborating with legislators across the country to address the serious mental-health challenges our nation is facing,” said Velis, who helped usher the Mental Health ABC Act 2.0 into Massachusetts law last session. “These issues are especially prevalent in our workforce, where we see a shortage of behavioral-healthcare workers and where we also see individuals with mental-health conditions struggling to find employment. These problems aren’t unique to one single part of the country, and this task force is all about creating a policy framework to help states address these workforce gaps.”

The Mental Health Matters: National Task Force on Workforce Mental Health Policy is being convened by CSG and NCSL in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED). The task force consists of 40 legislative, executive, and judicial state policymakers and subject-matter experts who have championed solutions and support for mental health, disability, and workforce issues.

The goal of the task force is to identify, discuss, and develop a policy framework to support job seekers and employees with mental-health conditions, as well as address the behavioral-healthcare workforce shortage. The SEED team will then produce a series of policy briefs based on the task force’s work to circulate across states and cities. Areas of focus for the task force include non-discrimination in care; workplace supports; underserved racial, ethnic, and rural communities; behavioral-health workforce shortages; and state behavioral-health resource systems.

The second conference of the task force will occur in the early spring. Velis noted that he hopes to bring some of the best practices developed with the task force back to Massachusetts to implement in the new legislative session.