National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Oppose Paul Amendment
June 21, 2005
On Thursday, June 23, the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider legislation funding the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for FY 2006. During debate on this important measure, Representatives Ron Paul (R-TX) is expected to offer an amendment to bar federal funding for screening and early intervention programs targeted to children and adolescents with mental illness. NAMI strongly opposes the Paul Amendment and strongly encourages advocates to contact their House member and urge them to vote against this misguided proposal.
Advocates should contact House offices and urge a NO vote on the Paul Amendment to the FY 2006 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill. All House offices can be reached by calling 202-224-3121 or by e-mail through the http://www.congress.org website.
Background on the Paul Amendment
NAMI strongly opposes an amendment that will be offered by Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) that would prohibit the use of federal funding for mental health screening.
Mental health screening will save lives. The early identification of mental illnesses in youth through screening helps prevent tragedies including youth suicide, youth locked in juvenile detention centers, school dropout and failure and immeasurable suffering. Mental illnesses are involved in over 90% of the 30,000 suicides in this country every year.
Contrary to claims by some, no one is calling for universal or mandatory mental health screening without parental consent. Not President Bush, not President Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, and certainly not mental health advocates -- no one.
Attacks on mental health screening are grounded in stigma and prejudice. This amendment targets mental illnesses and threatens to drive up stigma. Stigma is one of the greatest barriers to individuals accessing treatment for mental illnesses. President Bush and other national leaders have called for an end to stigma. This amendment must be defeated to avoid further stigmatizing mental illnesses.
Our nation has a public health crisis in unidentified youth with mental illnesses. We only identify 20% of youth with mental illnesses -- thereby failing to identify and intervene with services for 80% of youth with often tragic consequences.
Click here to learn more about Paul sponsored anti-screening legislation.