Pete Buttigieg: Stress Under Donald Trump a Cause of Mental Health Crisis in America

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a campaign event, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Friday released a plan to combat addiction, mental health, and loneliness, but he warned that the president himself was part of the cause.

“I think that when you have national leadership pitting people against each other, telling some people that they don’t belong, and creating a general atmosphere of general chaos and just plain meanness, then of course stress levels go up,” he said in an interview with Teen Vogue. “And I think stress is a big part of what goes into health. So we can’t pretend there’s no health consequences to what’s going on in the White House.”

Buttigieg warned of an overall mental health crisis in America, proposing a plan to fix it.

“This crisis of pain and despair is not one unique to whiteness; it is one that is distinctly American,” he wrote in a statement after releasing his plan.

Buttigieg cited statistics of different constituencies, noting that overdose deaths among black American were spiking, LGTBQ youth were five times more likely to attempt suicide, and Latinos were experiencing lower levels of overall health under Trump.

“It matters to me as a member of the LGTBQ community knowing how many LBTBQ people and youth, in particular, are exposed to mental health challenges just because who they are,” he said in a video promoting his plan.

Under his new plan, Buttigieg promises to prevent one million “deaths of despair” by 2028.

Critical to his new plan is the launch of a national campaign to “end loneliness,” which would “combat the culture of loneliness and social isolation.”

Social media, he explained, was a big part of understanding the new threat of loneliness affecting Americans, especially young people.

“We’re still figuring out as a species how to deal with technology and how it’s changing our lives — social media being the main example,” he said to Teen Vogue.

He also announced plans for a 10 year $100 billion grant program for communities looking for assistance with mental health as well as a proposal to reduce people incarcerated due to mental illness.

Buttigieg also proposes to mandate health care plans to pay more of mental health services and require every school to teach Mental Health First Aid.

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