September has been National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which is especially important to recognize this year as the coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on Americans’ mental health, whether from the increased economic anxiety, the emotional hardship of losing a loved one, or not being able to visit family and friends.

An estimated one in five Americans suffers from a mental health condition, and, unfortunately, this pandemic has only made this crisis worse. According to a recent survey, 53% of adults in the U.S. said the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health. Even our troops have been affected, with one report this month showing military suicides have increased by as much as 20% compared with the same period in 2019.

This is a challenging time, and now more than ever it is critical that we support those battling mental health issues and addiction.

Unfortunately, just as the need for mental health and addiction services has soared, 90% of community behavioral health organizations across the country have been forced to reduce operations — limiting access to services, support, and treatment just when people need it most.

That’s why I worked with Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana to introduce the Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Act, which would provide needed funding to create and expand services like support groups, telephone helplines and websites, telehealth, and other outreach services. Our bill would increase access to mental health and addiction services during the pandemic and help ensure people can get the support they need.

My own story is like a lot of families’ stories. Despite being a successful sports writer and columnist, my dad struggled with alcoholism when I was growing up. I saw him climb the highest mountains but also sink to the lowest valleys. After three DWIs he finally got treatment and was, in his words, “pursued by grace.” Today, he’s 92 years old and sober. And he’s still friends with his Alcoholics Anonymous buddies!

If we work together and continue to support mental health and addiction services, we can ensure that so many more Americans have the opportunity to be “pursued by grace.”

Amy Klobuchar represents Minnesota in the U.S. Senate.


As with any health condition, if you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you're having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This free and confidential support provides prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

— U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar