WASHINGTON and RICHMOND, Va., July 16, 2012 -- Michael J. Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mira Signer, executive director of NAMI Virginia released the following joint statement today:
"Lt. Governor Bill Bolling's statement to the Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Va., saying that Obama voters should 'check themselves into a mental hospital' is an insult to all Virginians and all Americans— including active duty military personnel, veterans and people who actually live with mental illness.
It is an outrageous, ignorant and prejudiced statement.
It represents 'stigma-slinging,' one of the worst practices in American politics.
One in four Americans experience mental health problems in any given year. Stigmatizing stereotypes and disparagement serve only to discourage people from seeking help when they need it.
Made in the heart of Virginia's military community, the Lt. Governor's statement is especially disturbing at a time when the Pentagon is trying to eliminate any stigma imposed on returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan who may struggle with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other brain injuries.
Mental illness does not discriminate. It is non-partisan. It affects Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike.
NAMI is non-partisan. We do not endorse political candidates. However, we call on the Lt. Governor to apologize.
Because the Lt. Governor is state chairman of the Romney presidential campaign, we also call on Governor Romney to disavow the statement and speak out forcefully against the stigma that traditionally surrounds mental illness."
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope.