Press Releases

NAMI Warns House of Representatives: Insurance Discrimination Kills Mental Health Parity Represents Investment in Recovery

Statement of Jim McNulty, NAMI Board President

Nov 29 2001

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), with 220,000 members and 1200 state and local affiliates nationwide, is - proud to stand with Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN), Mrs. Rosalyn Carter, and others in support of S 543, the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act.

The Senate has passed the legislation. The House of Representatives must too. The benefits are significant. The cost is relatively low, and the risk to American families of denied treatment is much too high to be justified.

Stigma and discrimination kill. Mental illnesses lead to 90 percent or more of all suicides. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, yet only 20 percent of our children and adolescents ever get the treatment they need.

Overall, one in five Americans experience mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and severe anxiety disorders. Members of Congress, like federal workers throughout the country, already have strong parity provisions for mental health care in their health insurance. Other Americans deserve the same.

Each year, the cost of untreated mental illnesses exceeds $113 billion. MIT's Sloan School of Management has reported that clinical depression alone costs American businesses $29 billion a year in lost productivity. In contrast, parity represents less than one percent of the cost of health insurance. It is a prudent investment. It is an investment in recovery. It is an investment in the future.