November 1, 2005
We know what is wrong with America’s mental health care system.
In 1999, the landmark U.S. Surgeon General Report on Mental Health documented barriers to treatment. Two years ago, President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health called for transformation of a fragmented “system in shambles.”
Today’s report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) emphasizes that the challenge is more than a gap, but a chasm, between promise and performance. See www.national-academies.org
The report is an excellent prescription of principles, some of which have been reflected in earlier reports but never acted upon, others of which provide a greater vision of a 21st century system of care.
We know what must be done. The challenge now is to make sure that the report does not end up simply gathering dust on shelves in the White House, the Library of Congress, or state medical libraries.
Read the report. Act on it. It is a serious blueprint for serious transformation, building on the foundation of the Surgeon General’s Report and the New Freedom Commission’s recommendations. We urgently need:
Action is needed now. Without it, the chasm will only grow wider.
Mental illness affects one out of every five Americans. It does not discriminate. It affects men and women, the young and old, Republicans and Democrats alike.