Arlington, Va. Jan. 16, 2013 - Michael J. Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) issued the following statement about President Obama’s “Plan to Protect Children and Communities from Gun Violence,” released today:
"NAMI applauds the President’s plan for its significant provisions to strengthen and expand mental health services. The plan in fact reflects the thrust of many of NAMI’s recommendations that we offered Vice President Biden’s task force in the days immediately following the Newtown, Conn. tragedy. Out of tragedy, Americans today have an opportunity that probably comes only once in a generation. The mental health care system has long been broken. The challenge is not to fix it, but to build it anew, focusing on early screening, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. The President’s plan takes important steps toward meeting that challenge, including:
The President emphasizes the need for parents, teachers and school counselors to work together. In addition, NAMI emphasizes the importance of family education and support as a critical component in meeting the challenge. The President correctly notes that the vast majority of people living with mental illness are not violent. NAMI supports fixing the existing federal background check system for gun purchases and emphasizes that this should include provisions to protect privacy and ensure that people will seek mental health treatment when needed. NAMI is eager to work with the Administration and Congress on the implementation of these important steps."
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.