Bernie Sanders Calls for Mental Health Treatment "Revolution" at Democratic Debate

Stephen B. Morton/AP

Hours after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his single-payer health care plan Sunday, he called for a mental health revolution at the NBC/YouTube Democratic debate — a revolution he said starts with guaranteeing immediate treatment to the mentally unstable. 

"When we talk about addiction being a disease, the secretary [former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] is right, what that means is we need a revolution in this country in terms of mental health treatment," Sanders said in response to Clinton's assertion that drug offenses should be treated as health issues rather than crimes. "People should be able to get the treatment that they need, when they need it, not two months from now, which is why I believe in universal health care with mental health a part of that."

Stephen B. Morton/AP

In any given year, some 10 million Americans experience "serious mental illness ... that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities," according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. According to the organization, of the 20.2 million U.S. adults "who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults— had a co-occurring mental illness."

Just hours before the debate Sunday, Sanders announced a progressive single-payer healthcare plan that would provide health care for all at the cost of tax hikes. The plan would cost a staggering $1.38 trillion a year, CNN reported, and would be supplemented by an additional 2.2% income tax for all and 6.2% for employers.