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Many Texans, like myself, know June 27 is an unofficial holiday, celebrating a landmark moment that propelled the Houston music scene to prominence. For counselors, we can now celebrate our own unofficial holiday, April 19, the day that Nebraska became the tenth and final state needed to enact the Counseling Compact. This date will transform the mental health landscape on a national level. The Counseling Compact allows professional counselors who are licensed and residing in a compact member state to practice in other compact member states without the need for multiple licenses. This is an incredible milestone and something we should all celebrate. With the compact, we are finally recognizing the need to leverage skilled clinicians to meet the heightened mental health needs nationally.
Eliminating every barrier to mental health
As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I am elated to see legislation passed that will not only benefit thousands of counseling providers, but will directly impact a countless number of people seeking mental health services. Tired of the traditional way of doing things, I joined Spring Health in 2019 to eliminate every barrier to mental health: a mission statement that I do not take lightly. In my home state, we rank 50th in access to mental health treatment. I can only imagine what access would look like if we too decided to join the compact. Sadly, no legislation has yet been introduced.
With 10 states now in the Compact, they will spend the next year establishing a governing structure to oversee implementation. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and the official start of this policy, but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s this: right now there are people who need help and can’t get it. The Compact is certainly not a silver bullet, but it is a crucial, hard won, victory. With one more barrier removed, I am hopeful that help is on the way.
The next step you can take
For now, I am celebrating overcoming this first hurdle while recognizing the long fight ahead of us. Aside from working out the logistics, we still need to garner inclusion from more states and a wider collective of providers. I would be remiss if I didn’t leave you all with a call to action. There are 40 states still not in the compact, with 29 that have not even introduced this legislation. If you are passionate about expanding access to mental healthcare and would like to see your state join the compact, reach out to your local state legislators and tell them why you support it.
As of April 19, 2022, the Compact has been enacted in:
- West Virginia
With legislation pending in:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
Common Cause has a directory for you to find and contact your local representatives and urge them to introduce and/or pass this importation piece of legislation.
Check out this toolkit to learn more about how you can get involved in this action. Alone we can go fast, but together we can go far.