Transforming Mental Health Care in America
"Mr. President ... the Mental Health Treatment System in America is in Shambles" -- President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, October 2002
At the end of 2002, the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health sent a message to the President of the United States --that our current efforts to treat people with mental illnesses are not working. The Commission found that the consequences of this failure are staggering. They also told him that based on two decades of research and a revolution in the science and understanding of the brain, we already know a great deal about what works. We simply need the will to do it.
The Mind of America Foundation is a public/private partnership committed to bring the facts about mental illness and recovery to a wider public in order to eradicate stigma, improve access to scientific treatment and supports, and transform the mental healthcare system in America.
The Foundation is dedicated to the principles that: 1) all Americans have a right to receive the most effective treatments available to overcome the serious and disabling mental illnesses that affect between eight and fifteen million adults and children in the United States and, 2) provision of effective treatment and support to those in need is sensible and compassionate public policy.
The Mind of America Foundation is committed to help build a mental health care system in America that is firmly based on the advances in brain science that have occurred during the past two decades. The Foundation seeks to transform an outdated system built on ignorance, fear and discrimination and replace it with one based on the facts about mental disorders and recovery, including:
- Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person’s "character" or intelligence.
- Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity. The most serious and disabling conditions such as major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, panic disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders affect five to ten million adults (2.6 – 5.4%) and three to five million children ages five to seventeen (5 – 9%) in the United States.
- Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability (lost years of productive life) in the North America, Europe and, increasingly, in the world. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for adults and children.
- Mental illnesses strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.
- Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.
- The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports;
- Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; by getting people the treatment they need early, recovery is accelerated and the brain is protected from further harm related to the course of illness.
- Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.
The Work of the Foundation and the Advisory Council
The Advisory Council brings together prominent citizens who, working directly with the Foundation Board of Directors and staff, offer specialized help and assistance, afford access to decision-makers and resources, and provide direct and indirect financial support to The Foundation and its Campaign for the Mind of America.
Make an online donation now to support the work of the Mind of America Foundation.