NAMI Applauds World Health Organization's Landmark Report on Mental Health

Statement by Richard Birkel, Executive Director, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)

Oct 04 2001

Arlington, VA - NAMI salutes the World Health Organization's (WHO) year long focus on mental health issues, including World Health Day this past April 6th, and today's release of the World Health Report 2001: Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope. The report is the culmination of WHO's year-long campaign on mental health, and marks the first time in the organization's history that World Health Day and the World Health Report were both dedicated to a single topic - mental health and mental illnesses.

We support fully the World Health Organization's efforts to dismantle barriers of stigma and discrimination with the publication of this report. The World Health Report 2001 is global in its scope and implications, and focuses on stigma, discrimination, and the difficulties across the globe in getting appropriate treatment. It advocates for ending discrimination and ensuring that all people with mental illnesses are able to get effective, unrestricted treatment within their own communities.

We know that one in four people will be affected by mental illnesses - brain disorders - at some stage of life. Few families remain untouched by mental illnesses, and many feel helpless when a loved one is unable to receive necessary treatments. We hope this report will help open discussion about the challenges and problems faced worldwide by people with severe mental illnesses and their families.

This report is a step forward - acknowledging the growing worldwide recognition of the profound personal and economic consequences of severe mental illnesses. Following this report, the next step must reach beyond awareness and towards action by making necessary global improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.