May 19, 2006
NAMI Warns Congress About Cutting NIMH Budget; Research "Vitally Important" to Recovery, Third-Generation Medicines
Washington, D.C. - The president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness today warned Congress that President Bush's proposed $9 million cut in the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) budget will erode progress in finding new treatments for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression—condemning millions of Americans to chronic disability.
Dr. Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia, NAMI board president, a practicing psychiatrist, and a person living with bipolar disorder, told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that she herself has had periods of severe illness, including catatonic episodes and three suicide attempts.
"Due to aggressive treatment and social supports I am living a full life. I am thankful," she said. "But many people in our country have not yet achieved recovery."
"If Congress cuts funding to NIMH as the President has suggested we will continue to have millions of people in this country with chronic disability and a $40 billion dollar loss in economic productivity for schizophrenia alone."
Because of past doubling of NIMH's research budget, NAMI testified, the agency has been able to sponsor "vitally important real world trials" that are creating opportunities to define individualized treatment strategies and future medication options—as well as laying a foundation for "third generation" medications that will not be realized without further support from the federal government.
In addition, Vogel-Scibilia noted:
- "Genome studies for serious mental illness that could transform understanding of the causes and risk factors for these devastating illnesses and open new avenues for effective treatment will collapse without adequate funding."
- "We will be unable to advance schizophrenia and bipolar research progress. One example is understanding if early intervention with medication, therapy and rehabilitation will prevent disability or morbidity in persons with new onset schizophrenia."
- "Lastly we will be unable to address and prevent the epidemic of suicide in this country including a substantial number of our young people."