NAMI Offers Family Perspectives On The Surgeon General's Release Of A National Action Agenda On Children's Mental Health


Jan 03 2001

Arlington, VA - On January 3, 2001, the U.S. Surgeon General will release a report indicating that the nation faces a public crisis in mental healthcare for children and adolescents. Institutions and systems created to take care of children are failing them instead. 

  • The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) can assist editors, producers and reporters seeking independent reactions and first-person stories about families who have struggled with mental illness, particularly for follow-up series.
  • NAMI research director and medical advisor, Dr. Rex Cowdry, former acting director of the National Institute for Mental Health, will be available for interviews   (Messages left at the contact telephone above will be checked over the holiday weekend).
  • A growing story in Sun Valley, Idaho, for example, offers a complement to the Surgeon General’s report. While many of the nation’s elite will be skiing at the resort area during the first week of the New Year,  NAMI-Idaho will be challenging a new, local hospital which has refused to provide overnight psychiatric crisis care—even though the closest alternative is four hours away. Many of the people affected are teenagers. Interviews can be arranged with local families, including one teenager who has attempted suicide three times, but still was turned away when seeking help.

The Surgeon General’s Report Will Identify Specific Goals, Focusing On:

  • Family education and recognition of early indicators of potential mental health problems.
  • Increased education of front-line providers, including health care professionals, teachers, school counselors and coaches.
  • Increased training of health care professionals in scientifically proven, state-of-the-art approaches for assessment, treatment and prevention.
  • Continued scientific research.
  • Connecting research and practice to public policy on access to care.
  • Increased coordination of mental health services for families. The report will note that no primary mental health care system evens exists for children and adolescents. Treatment and services are fragmented across many institutions, including too often the juvenile justice system.
  • Reducing stigma associated with mental illness.
  • Increasing public awareness.