|NAMI News Release||For Immediate Release: Oct. 7, 2002|
"Campaign for the Mind of America" Launched
NAMI Calls for Political Revolution to End Broken Promises
Contact: Bob Carolla/Anne-Marie Chace: 703-524-7600
Arlington, VA - The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) today announced the launch of the "Campaign for the Mind of America," a multi-year effort on many fronts to promote investment in recovery-and to prevent the abandonment of yet another generation of Americans with mental illnesses to neglect and hopelessness.
"We have the knowledge and tools to help people recover from mental illnesses," said NAMI executive director Richard C. Birkel, Ph.D. "What we lack as a society is the will to use them. We are living in a scientific revolution that began in the 1970s, but a political revolution is needed as well."
"Many people with mental illnesses were deinstitutionalized in the 1970s, but the federal and state governments broke promises to provide community treatment and supports such as housing and employment opportunities."
"No one is immune. One out of five Americans will experience a mental illness, but no more than a third get the treatment they need. The cost to society of untreated mental illness is more than $100 billion a year. Lives are wasted or lost. The nation experiences 30,000 suicides each year-more than the number of homicides-with suicide also being the third leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults."
"We need to build a comprehensive, efficient system to screen, evaluate, diagnose and treat mental illnesses at every stage of life. We need a system that affirms principles of individual liberty and freedom-which are as old as the values in our nation's Declaration of Independence. We must act now to build a new revolution."
"Our lives and those of our children depend on it."
NAMI's announcement of the new campaign is timed to coincide with Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), October 6-12, 2002, and to precede release later this month of a preliminary report on the nation's treatment system by President Bush's "New Freedom" Commission on Mental Health.
As a first step toward reform, President Bush pledged in April 2002, while naming the commission, to work to enact legislation "this year" establishing parity for mental health benefits in health insurance plans. With Congress preparing to adjourn this week, however, leaders in the House of Representatives so far have ignored that promise.
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