Vizient Hosts Congressional Briefing on Mental and Behavioral Health

From left, Heather Chung, Susan Swick, Michelle Schafer and Julie Cerese participate in the policy briefing, “Communities in Crisis: How Hospitals are Addressing Mental and Behavioral Health Challenges in their Communities” at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C. November 8, 2023. (Photo: Business Wire)

IRVING, Texas--()--Yesterday on Capitol Hill, Vizient, Inc. held a policy briefing titled, “Communities in Crisis: How Hospitals are Addressing Mental and Behavioral Health Challenges in their Communities” at the Rayburn House Office Building. The event focused on hospitals’ critical role in providing mental and behavioral health treatment and support, drawing attendance from more than 60 deeply engaged congressional staff and industry stakeholders.

“Vizient works to drive solutions that enable hospitals to deliver enhanced care, including support for mental and behavioral healthcare treatment and access, through advocacy, our performance improvement collaboratives program, and other efforts,” said Julie Cerese, group senior vice president, networks, performance management and member education for Vizient. “We are pleased to bring together key stakeholders for this important topic as collaboration among policymakers, hospital leaders, physicians, nurses, and staff is essential to improving patient care and quality.”

Moderated by Cerese, the policy discussion featured an esteemed panel of hospital mental and behavioral health leaders, including:

  • Heather Chung, PhD, RN, NE-BC, System Director of Psychiatry, Houston Methodist
  • Michelle Schafer, MS, CEAP, LMHC, Regional Vice President and System Clinical, Program Chair, Behavioral Health, SSM Health
  • Susan Swick, MD, MPH, Vice President and Chief Mental Health Officer, Montage Health

The panel of experts discussed the significant challenges to mental and behavioral health treatment, including increased demand for services, limited access to treatment, and clinician shortages. Despite the obstacles and mounting strain on hospitals, these providers, and others, continue to implement strategies to help address the significant unmet need in their communities. Notably, the panelists highlighted various programs and partnerships that aim to increase access and enhance care quality, such as an innovative program focused on post-discharge care, a new behavioral health urgent care model, and collaborative efforts with schools and pediatricians to promote youth mental health.

Vizient looks forward to continuing to work closely with policymakers, industry stakeholders, and healthcare providers to promote policies and initiatives that increase access to high-quality mental and behavioral healthcare services.

Learn more about Vizient’s advocacy and public policy efforts.

About Vizient, Inc.

Vizient, Inc., the nation's largest health care performance improvement company, serves more than 50% of the nation's acute care providers, which includes 97% of the nation's academic medical centers, and more than 25% of the non-acute market. Vizient provides expertise, analytics and advisory services, as well as a contract portfolio that represents more than $130 billion in annual purchasing volume. Vizient's solutions and services improve the delivery of high-value care by aligning cost, quality and market performance. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, Vizient has offices throughout the United States. Learn more at


Donna Ledbetter
(972) 830-6321

Release Summary

Vizient hosts “Communities in Crisis: How Hospitals are Addressing Mental and Behavioral Health in their Communities” in Washington, D.C. Nov 8.

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Donna Ledbetter
(972) 830-6321