Founded in 1969, and incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) in 2015, the Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG at www.mhlg.org) is a membership organization comprised of national groups representing consumers, family members, mental health and addiction providers, advocates, payers and other stakeholders committed to strengthening Americans’ access to mental health and addiction care. As trusted leaders in the field, our 70+ member organizations are dedicated to elevating the national conversation around mental health and addiction. Together, we work to advance federal policies that support prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery services and supports. The MHLG also partners with over 40 affiliate member organizations.
Board of Directors
Chair, Laurel Stine, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Secretary, Phyllis Foxworth, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Margot Aronson, Clinical Social Work Association
- Elizabeth A. Cullen, The Jewish Federations of North America
- Craig Obey, American Psychiatric Association
- Samuel Hewitt, American Nurses Association
- Diana Felner, Tourette Association of America
- Peggy Tighe, American Psychoanalytic Association
- Reyna Taylor, National Council for Behavioral Health
- David Koss, SMART Recovery
- Sarah Butts, National Association of Social Workers
- Keygan Miller, The Trevor Project
- Adrienne Griffin, Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance
- Andrew Strickland, American Psychological Association
- Michael Linskey, National Alliance on Mental Illness
What We Do
The MHLG is a forum for collaboration among the leading national mental health and addiction-focused organizations. Together, we provide policymakers with information and support in advancing our shared policy priorities. The MHLG hosts congressional staff briefings to share information on trends and best practices in the field; provides annual recommendations on mental health and addiction funding in the federal appropriations bills; writes letters to Congress outlining our position on important legislation or offering suggestions for improving proposed policies; and more.
The MHLG has two key committees that provide information and resources on current issues:
Health Policy Committee
- For over 20 years, the health policy committee of the MHLG has provided a space for members to meet monthly to discuss legislative and public policy issues within a health policy committee. The monthly meetings are routinely held on the first Friday, from 10:30am-noon, and have been virtual via Zoom since April 2020. Previously, meetings were held at the American Psychological Association, conveniently located near Union Station. These meetings typically include congressional or federal agency staff and external experts as invited speakers.
- Co-chairs: Elizabeth Cullen, The Jewish Federations of North America; Katrina Velasquez, Eating Disorders Coalition; Cynthia Whitney, Children’s Hospital Association and Andrew Strickland, American Psychological Association, with Laurel Stine, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, serving as an ex-officio member
Budget and Appropriations Committee
- This committee convenes MHLG members with a strong interest in federal appropriations and is tasked with developing the yearly MHLG Appropriation Recommendations for programs under the Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
- Co-chairs: David Koss, SMART Recovery; Hannah Wesolowski, National Alliance on Mental Illness
In 2021, the MHLG formed workgroups that discuss policy, write letters and provide information/expertise to the Health Policy, and Budget & Appropriations Committee:
- Telehealth Workgroup brings together MHLG members interested in policies to advance telehealth within federal programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial plans, and to ensure permanent access to a wide array of tele-mental and behavioral health services, including audio-only.
Co-liaisons: Elizabeth Cullen, Jewish Federations of North America; Allison Ivie, REDC Consortium
- Parity Workgroup brings together MHLG members with a strong interest in supporting enforcement — and expansion — of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The workgroup discusses ongoing parity compliance issues, improving oversight and enforcement by state and federal regulators, strengthening Parity Act requirements, and expanding its protections to all Americans.
Co-liaisons: Tim Clement, American Psychiatric Association; David Lloyd, Kennedy Forum
- Peer Supports Workgroup is focused on tracking legislative activity related to several areas of peer support and workforce issues. The workgroup also collaborates with federal agencies on shared concerns such as training, certification and workforce development.
Co-liaisons: Eric Scharf, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; David Koss, Smart Recovery
- Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services Workgroup brings together MHLG members whose work supports suicide prevention programs, research, and awareness.The workgroup analyzes and supports different legislative priorities and federal initiatives that fund research and expand or create suicide prevention strategies and crisis care response systems across all populations.
Co-liaisons: Jen Snow, National Alliance on Mental Illness; Joanna Rosen, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Child, Adolescent and Education Workgroup brings together MHLG members with a strong interest in advocating for increased access to mental and behavioral health services for our nation’s youth. The workgroup meets to share information and discuss opportunities and strategies to support federal policies and initiatives that address the mental health needs of young people in schools, hospitals, college campuses, and community-based settings.
Co- liaisons: Kenneth Polishchuk, American Psychological Association; Liz Murphy, Sandy Hook Promise; Caren Howard, Mental Health America
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Workgroup brings together MHLG members to support MHLG advocacy on federal policies and legislation with a focus on potential bias, stigma, systemic and structural racism, and disparities due to social determinants of health. The workgroup strives to support MHLG member organizations in addressing structural inequities by creating and bringing new resources to the MHLG coalition.
Co-liaisons: Preston Mitchum, Trevor Project; Maddie Schumacher, Eating Disorders Coalition; Leo Rennie, American Psychological Association
- Workforce Workgroup brings together MHLG members with a strong interest in supporting the mental health and substance use treatment workforce. The workgroup convenes to discuss and support federal policy initiatives aimed at developing, attracting, and retaining a robust mental health and substance use workforce, as well as addressing burnout and promoting mental wellbeing within the workforce.
Co-liaisons: Reyna Taylor, National Council for Mental Wellbeing; Elizabeth Cullen, Jewish Federations of North America