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Politics and Policy

City of Reno Mayor Schieve to chair U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Mental Health

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve is sitting on-stage at the United States Conference of Mayors. She is speaking to an audience out of frame. To her right sit U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, listening intently.
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United States Conference of Mayors via YouTube
Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve (from left), U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at the United States Conference of Mayors 90th Annual Meeting Plenary Luncheon in Reno, Nev., on June 5, 2022.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, hosted in Reno, appointed the city’s own Mayor Hillary Schieve to chair a national task force on mental health.

The 90th Annual Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors kicked off in Reno on June 3 and featured a live appearance by Vice President Kamala Harris as well as a virtual visit by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, reignited a national dialogue about mental health, rendering the topic a priority for conference attendees.

At a lunch event on June 5, Francis Suarez, mayor of Miami and president of the conference, welcomed the City of Reno’s own Mayor Hillary Schieve to chair a new national task force on mental health and wellbeing.

“Our nation is hurting,” Suarez remarked at the panel's opening. “Our children are hurting, and I’m hopeful that as we talk today, we’ll walk away with some of the tools we need to help our cities heal — because when our people hurt, we hurt.”

Also in attendance at the panel was Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General. He emphasized the importance of restoring authentic social connections in America.

“When people struggle with their mental health it doesn’t just affect how they feel,” Murthy said. “It affects their physical health, it affects productivity in the workplace, how kids perform in school, and it affects peoples’ ability to dialogue with one another. It affects civic engagement, people’s participation in communities. And, I will say that in the last few years, since I’ve traveled the country, I have rarely met somebody who felt that the state of our dialogue in America is healthy.”

In closing, Schieve championed open dialogues and heightened access to mental health resources. She said, she doesn’t often speak publicly about her family, but that her late siblings’ experiences with mental illness informed her sense of responsibility to address the problem among her own constituents.

“I’m the mayor of my city and I literally had to try to get my brother arrested to get him mental health help,” Schieve said. “Now, finally, I feel like this is the most important work we will do in cities — talking about mental health and how to provide better access.”

The task force, newly chaired by Mayor Schieve, is intended to guide a national conversation and repair critical gaps in mental health care.

Watch the full United States Conference of Mayors 90th Annual Meeting Plenary Luncheon held in Reno on June 5 here.

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