Bill Smith started Inseparable two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic. Inseparable aims to empower Americans from every town, city, and home to better care for one another by demanding and winning policy that cares for us all. Bill says, “the health of our minds can’t be separated from the health of our bodies.” Inseparable fights for a future where mental health policy, no longer an afterthought, helps our country thrive. Bill’s experience of losing his brother to mental illness encouraged him to create a movement to change the broken approach to mental health in the United States.
Inseparable’s mission is to focus on three core areas to improve people’s mental health:
The Treatment Gap
Bill explains how access to treatment is difficult for several reasons. First, there is a shortage of workers to meet the demands for mental healthcare. “Having a culturally competent and diverse workforce is really important so that you have people who understand your life experience,” Bill says.
Telehealth is a solution that addresses unequal access to healthcare services. Bill says, “we think technology and the role that it can play in addressing the workforce is a really important one to focus on.”
Integrating mental healthcare in different areas of one’s life is another pivotal solution to reducing the mental health treatment access gap. Bill explains, “integration is about making sure we talk about mental health everywhere they show up in life. Whether it is school, or work, or places of worship.”
The last part of the treatment gap Bill mentions is mental health parity. Bill describes this as “a fancy word for making sure that mental health issues are reimbursed and paid for the same way other health issues are. We know that people either individually or through their employers or where they go to school have access to health insurance that doesn’t always cover mental health services.” Inseparable aims to ensure people get the treatment they paid for and access to services they paid for through their health insurance.
Bill discusses the urgency to address youth mental health early. He explains how reaching children through schools is the best approach. “One of the things we focus on specifically is the use of comprehensive School mental health systems. It’s a model that was put out by the National Center for school middle help, and it’s a series of things that you need to do so that a school is not just a safe place for people experiencing mental health challenges, but it’s a place where kids can thrive.”
Inseparable started the Hopeful Futures Campaign to implement comprehensive mental health in American schools. This Campaign equips activists with a series of tools to change mental health and school policies state by state. Bill says, “one thing we want to do is normalize that conversation about mental health from a very early age so that we are sending people out into the world who are OK to talk about their mental help when they need to and who will help people access care.”
Stopping the Criminalization of Mental Illness
The third issue that Inseparable aims to eliminate in mental health care is the criminalization of mental health. Bill explains the three-legged stool for mental health crisis response as “someone to take a call or message in a crisis, someone to show up if need be, and somewhere to go.” He says, “the real issue with our crisis response system is after that what happens if someone needs to show up and who are we sending and are they trained in crisis response and helping someone get access to the care they need and the.
Inseparable is currently focused on producing a report to show where states are on all three legs of the crisis stool. Bill states, “we are looking at specific legislation right now that would define price response services and make sure that they’re covered by Insurance in the same way that if you had a physical health crisis.”
Inseparable is moving bills forward and proactively changing the policies to fix the mental health crisis in the U.S. Just a few of the recent bills that Inseparable has helped to pass include:
You can listen to Bill Smith’s whole conversation here and read more of our insights here.