The Campaign for Mental Health Reform, a partnership of 16 national mental health organizations, including NAMI, released an important report today recommending a series of actions that Congress and the Administration can take to improve services for people with mental illnesses.
The report, entitled "Emergency Response: A Roadmap for Federal Action on America's Mental Health Crisis," describes the negative consequences, including criminalization, homelessness and suicides, that occur when people do not have access to the treatment and services they need. These circumstances are nothing less than a national tragedy that must be addressed through "immediate federal action … if access, recovery and quality services are to become the hallmark of America's public mental health system."
In July 2002, President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, proclaimed that America’s mental health system is fragmented beyond repair and emphasized the need for a wholesale transformation to a system far more responsive to the needs of consumers and their families. The report released today by the Campaign for Mental Health Reform contains a series of federal legislative and administrative recommendations for achieving this transformation.
NAMI President Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia, M.D., speaking today at a Press Conference on Capitol Hill, described the report as setting forth "a consensus vision among the groups in this Campaign of steps that must occur in federal policy if the New Freedom Commission’s vision of a transformed, recovery oriented mental health system in America is to become a reality." NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick praised the report as providing "a detailed action plan for the Federal government to more effectively coordinate and align Federal, state, and local resources to get the right services to the right people at the right time."
Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), speaking at the press conference, declared – "We have knocked down the walls of discrimination in so many areas. We have knocked down the walls of discrimination against people with disabilities, but we have not done so for mental health. … This is the New Frontier."
Other speakers included Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC), Representative Ted Strickland (D-OH), Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Representative Grace F. Napolitano (D-OH), and Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN).
At a time of great concern about the potentially harmful impact of proposed cuts in vital programs such as Medicaid and HUD housing programs, the "Roadmap" report provides a proactive vision for positive changes that can improve services for people with mental illnesses while making these services more efficient and cost-effective.
Click here to see the entire "Roadmap" report, the executive summary, a list of the organizations comprising the Campaign for Mental Health Reform, and other information.
Please write your U.S. Senators and Representative and ask them to support the seven steps and 28 action items contained in the "Roadmap" report.