This administration has already led the way on combating the drug addiction crisis. President Trump directed the declaration of an opioid public health emergency in 2017 and took action to confront the driving forces behind the crisis. Last week, the National Center for Health Statistics reported a decline in drug overdose deaths for the first time in 28 years. Life expectancy rose for the first time in four years.

Now, we must end the disgraceful way Americans with serious mental illness are treated. They are not receiving the care they desperately need. In 2018, 47 million people experienced some form of mental illness. More than 11 million of these Americans lived with mental illness of such severity that it impaired their ability to carry out normal life functions. And nearly 4 million Americans received no treatment at all. This is unacceptable.

In the 1950s, there were more than 550,000 state psychiatric hospital beds in the United States. By 2016, this number had dropped to 37,679. Instead of receiving care, the sick are locked behind bars, often after encounters with police officers ill equipped to manage these encounters effectively. There are more than 392,000 incarcerated individuals with serious mental illness. That means there are 10 times more individuals with serious mental illnesses in prison beds than in state psychiatric hospital beds.