|NAMI News Release||For Immediate Release: July 18, 2002|
NAMI Calls on Presidential Commission
|Contact: Anne-Marie Chace: 703-524-7600|
Washington, DC - The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) today testified before President Bush's "New Freedom" Commission on Mental Health -- pointing to a recent, offensive headline in the Trentonian as an example of how people with mental illness are devalued by stigma, which leads to lack of investment in treatment and recovery.
"Twenty percent of Americans experience mental illness. Two-thirds never receive treatment," said NAMI board president Jim McNulty, who has lived with bipolar disorder for almost 20 years. "Stigma is a big part of the problem."
On July 10, the Trentonian -- one of 23 daily newspapers nationwide owned by the Journal Register Company -- used the headline "Roasted Nuts" to describe a fire at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. NAMI has called the incident one of the worst examples of institutional prejudice and discrimination in recent memory.
"In 2002, the fact that such a headline could be written and then actually published underscores the problem of stigma and how the lives of people with mental illness are devalued," McNulty said. "It also underscores what the U.S. Surgeon General reported less than three years ago."
McNulty called on the Commission to build "a bully pulpit" with its recommendations that will encourage the President, Congress and other civic leaders to address forcefully both attitudinal and structural stigma throughout society.
He also warned that the President and Congress must ensure that the Commission's recommendations are not ignored once they are made-reminding the audience of promises made and broken in the 1970s and 1980s, after the last mental health commission appointed by President Jimmy Carter.
In comprehensive testimony submitted to the Commission, NAMI discussed numerous proposals for reform in nine broad areas:
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