Biden's State of the Union Address Highlights Opioid Crisis, Kid's Mental Health, Veteran Suicide

by Staff Writer
February 7, 2023 at 9:12 PM UTC

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night. A good deal of the president’s speech focused on healthcare topics, including several issues that touched on mental health.

The Opioid Crisis

“Together, we passed a law making it easier for doctors to prescribe effective treatments for opioid addiction,” Biden said. 

He then told a story about a father named Doug from Newton, New Hampshire, who wrote to the First Lady about his daughter Courtney. 

“Courtney discovered pills in high school. It spiraled into addiction and eventually her death from a fentanyl overdose. She was 20 years old.”

“Describing the last eight years without her, Doug said, ‘There is no worse pain,'” Biden said. “It is a story all too familiar to millions of Americans.”

The president added: “Yet their family has turned pain into purpose, working to end stigma and change laws. He told us he wants to “start the journey towards America’s recovery.” Doug, we’re with you.”

As the president noted, fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year. He urged congress to launch a major surge to stop fentanyl production, sale, and trafficking, with more drug detection machines to inspect cargo and stop pills and powder at the border. This can be done by working with carriers like FedEx to inspect more packages for drugs and institute stronger penalties to crack down on fentanyl trafficking, he said.

Children’s Mental Health

“Let’s do more on mental health, especially for our children. When millions of young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma, we owe them greater access to mental health care at school,” the President said. 

It’s time to finally hold social media companies accountable for the experiment they are running on our children for profit, he said, adding that it’s also time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us.

Helping Veterans

The final mental health topic the President touched on was veterans. 

“Helping veterans afford their rent because no one should be homeless in this country, especially not those who served it,” Biden said. “And we cannot go on losing 17 veterans a day to the silent scourge of suicide.”

[As a recent The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders studies reported, veterans account for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among US adults, despite making up only 8.5 percent of the population.]

The VA is doing everything it can, the president said, “including expanding mental health screenings and a proven program that recruits veterans to help other veterans understand what they’re going through and get the help they need.”

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