30 Health Organizations Call for Mental Health Question in Presidential Debate


Tax returns, email servers, beauty queens and stamina.

These were among the topics discussed during the first 2016 presidential debate on Sept. 26. During their 90 minutes on stage, both candidates overlooked a public health crisis: America’s broken mental health system. The only mention of mental health was in reference to how police handle crisis situations involving people with mental illness.

That’s why NAMI is teaming up with 29 health organizations to urge the Oct. 9 presidential debate moderators—CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz—to ask a question about mental health.

The debate will take the form of a town hall meeting. Half of the questions will be posed directly by citizen participants, and the other half will be posed by the moderators based on topics of public interest as reflected in social media and other sources. Americans can submit and then vote on questions online at PresidentialOpenQuestions.com, and ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the 30 most popular topics when they plan the debate.

Our country faces a public mental health crisis. It’s the crisis we aren’t talking about enough, and Americans need to know where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton stand on the topic. Mental health organizations and behavioral-physical health organizations are joining forces to make this crisis part of the national conversation.

Read and share our letter to help us accomplish this goal. Download and tweet an image of the letter at @AndersonCooper and @MarthaRaddatz, along with any mental health questions you would like to pose for the candidates. Or, use our examples below.

  • .@AndersonCooper & @MarthaRaddatz: Depression & bipolar disorder are the #1 reason children are admitted to hospitals-Ask about this #Debate
  • .@AndersonCooper & @MarthaRaddatz: 8.4 million Americans are caregivers for an adult living with mental illness. Ask about this. #Debates
  • .@AndersonCooper & @MarthaRaddatz: 2 million people with mental illness are in jail. Ask about this. #Debates
  • .@AndersonCooper & @MarthaRaddatz: Mental health care is denied at 2x’s the rate of other medical care in the U.S. Ask about this. #Debates
  • .@AndersonCooper & @MarthaRaddatz: The U.S. suicide rate is the highest it’s been in 30 years. Ask about this. #Debates
  • .@AndersonCooper & @MarthaRaddatz: 1 in 5 people live with mental illness. About 50% don’t get mental health care. Ask about this. #Debates

It’s time for the most pressing issues of our time to take the stage—issues like our growing national suicide rate, limited access to mental health care, teen hospitalization and mass incarceration of people with mental illness.

A better mental health system starts with a single question: What plans do the presidential candidates have to address America’s mental health crisis?

Click through to read the full letter below.