Press Releases

The Vice Presidential Debate: Playing "Where's Waldo?" with Mental Health Care

Oct 12 2012

ARLINGTON, Va. , Oct. 12, 2012—Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Representative Paul Ryan pulled no punches in Thursday's vice presidential debate, but "mental health" and "mental illness" were never mentioned.

"Finding concern for mental illness in the presidential debates is like playing a game of Where's Waldo?" said Michael J. Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

"One in four American adults experience a mental health problems in any given year, but in this election year important dimensions and distinctions on issues important to individuals and families affected by mental illness are being overlooked."

During the vice-presidential debate, many exchanges focused on Medicare, but only passing reference was made to Medicaid—a critical life-line for many low-income people living with disabilities.

"NAMI wants to hear President Obama and Governor Romney talk more about Medicaid and mental health specifically when they debate next week," Fitzpatrick said.

"Mental illness does not discriminate. It strikes Democrats, Republicans and independents alike."

NAMI's non-partisan "Mental Health Care Gets My Vote " campaign supports the following priorities:

  • Protect mental health funding.
  • Expand access to mental health coverage.
  • Ensure that effective mental health services are available.
  • Promote integration of mental health, addictions and primary care.
  • Improve the mental health of children, youth and young adults.
  • Meet the mental health needs of service members, veterans and their families.
  • Provide homes and jobs for people living with mental illness
  • Eliminate disparities in mental health care.
  • End inappropriate jailing of people with mental illness.

NAMI also has published two reports:

State Mental Health Cuts: The Continuing Crisis

Parity for Patriots: The Mental Health Needs of Military Personnel, Veterans and Their Families

"Every voter needs to study the issues closely. Look past the rhetoric. Weigh dueling numbers carefully. Apply that kind of scrutiny to every federal, state and local candidate," Fitzpatrick said.

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. It does not endorse candidates.