WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2013 -- Michael J. Fitzpatrick , executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) met yesterday with Vice President Joseph Biden 's task force on gun control, along with other leaders of the mental health community, urging action to strengthen and expand mental health care services.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Katherine Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder presided over the meeting.
"The meeting was not about guns," Fitzpatrick said. "It was a listening session about fundamental mental health care services. President Obama's leadership and Congressional action are needed to do what's right."
"We need the President to step forward and engage in a national dialogue on mental illness and the mental health care system."
NAMI emphasized four points in the meeting:
"The Task Force's recommendation must include mental health care," Fitzpatrick said. "No one solution can eliminate violence in America, but saving lives includes saving the lives of individuals and family members who struggle with mental illness every day."
"Treatment works—if a person can get it."
"The nation's common concern must be to prevent tragedies before they happen, no matter who is involved."
"We must have a national dialogue that builds systems of care that provide treatment and support to people who need it, when they need it."
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.