The President’s New Freedom Commission’s report released in July, entitled "Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America", emphasized that America’s mental health system is broken, fragmented beyond repair. What is needed, the Commission told the President, is a wholesale transformation of the mental health system.
This week, NAMI also released data from its first in a series of examinations of the state of mental health services in the United States. Entitled Shattered Lives: Results of TRIAD's First Report, NAMI’s survey of more than 3,400 individuals with serious mental illnesses revealed just how broken America’s mental health system really is. The data demonstrates that the lack of a coherent mental health system in this country has had a devastating impact for people with serious mental illnesses, including rampant unemployment, repeated psychiatric crises and hospitalizations, pervasive criminalization and incarceration, and insidious stigma and discrimination resulting in barriers to employment, housing and other aspects of life in the community.
The New Freedom’s Commission is the first presidential level commission to examine the state of American’s public mental health system since President Carter’s Commission in 1978. Will the report of this Commission result in the wholesale transformation called for by the Commissioners? Or, will it prove just to be another Washington report gathering dust on shelves? The answer lies with the President, with Congress, and with our state and local leaders. The answer lies just as much with us -- how we use the Commission’s report and the TRIAD data as advocacy tools.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to provide information about the New Freedom Commission’s report and the TRIAD project and how these can be used as advocacy tools. In the immediate, it is important that you share these important reports with as many key officials as possible, including your U.S. Senators and Congressperson, your state legislators, and state and local officials who run programs that impact on the lives of people with serious mental illnesses.
Take Action Now! Entering your zipcode below will locate a list of your representatives and display a sample letter. You may send the letter as-is or add your own personal touch. Be sure to mention any personal connections you have to these issues, or ways your life or family has been affected. Never underestimate the power of your personal experiences to influence your representatives' perspectives.
For more information about these reports, NAMI’s advocacy priorities, and other relevant information, check out the following links: