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National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI To Participate in Congressional Briefing on Children’s Mental Health

May 4, 2005

There is a critical need for our nation to improve the early identification of mental disorders in children and adolescents and to ensure early and appropriate intervention. This has now been well documented by the U.S. Surgeon General, President Bush’s New Freedom Commission and by numerous national experts in children’s mental illnesses.

Yet, there is currently a destructive campaign of misinformation underway about President Bush’s New Freedom Commission (NFC) report and mental health screening. Congressional briefings will be held, sponsored by the Campaign for Mental Health Reform (of which NAMI is a member), that are designed to set the record straight about the importance of early identification of mental illnesses in children and adolescents and the critical need for early intervention.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI’s Medical Director and a child and adolescent psychiatrist, will present as part of a distinguished panel of experts and will serve as the moderator for these briefings.

Read the press release from the Campaign for Mental Health Reform regarding the hearings.

We urge you to contact your Congressional members today to ask them to attend these critically important briefings. Here are talking points that you may wish to use when contacting those offices:

  • These briefings will address the public health crisis in our nation in unidentified and untreated mental illnesses in children and adolescents and the often tragic consequences that ensue -- including youth suicide, locking youth with mental illnesses up in juvenile detention centers, school failure and families struggling with unthinkable crises.
  • These briefings will set the record straight on the recommendations on early identification and early intervention included in President Bush’s New Freedom Commission report on mental health. It will also address campaigns of misinformation about mental health screening that drive up stigma and unnecessarily prey on fears.
  • The briefings will include panelists who will establish the scientific basis for early intervention and the incredible cost of failing to provide needed mental health treatment.
  • "Dear Colleague" letters are being sent to all House and Senate offices from the members of Congress that are coordinating the briefings (Senators Gordon Smith, Christopher Dodd, Mike DeWine, Jack Reed, Arlen Specter and Tom Harkin and Representatives Tim Murphy and Grace Napolitano on behalf of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus).

Here are the specifics about the House and Senate briefings:

Briefing Title: Promoting Resilience and Mental Health: The Need for Early Intervention for Children and Adolescents

Date and Time: May 11, 2005

Senate Breakfast Briefing: 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

House Lunch Briefing: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Location: Senate Briefing – 902 Hart Senate Office Building

                House Briefing – 345 Cannon House Office Building

All House and Senate members can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or online through www.congress.org .

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