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ARLINGTON, Va., July 18, 2013 -- Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) issued the following statement about the significance of the coming weekend:
"One year ago on July 20, Americans were deeply saddened by the tragedy in Aurora Colorado, in which 12 people were killed and 70 wounded.
This weekend on July 20, Albuquerque and Sacramento will hold forums as part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health. A third forum will be held in New York City on July 23.
These forums represent the start of the National Dialogue launched at the White House Conference on Mental Health on June 3. The dialogue will continue throughout the country in large and small communities in months ahead.
Violence exists in America, but as the U.S. Surgeon General has reported, "the overall contribution of mental disorders to the total level of violence in society is exceptionally small." When exceptions occur, they often are a sign that something has gone terribly wrong in the mental health care system.
One in four American adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year. The majority receive no treatment. Young adults in their 20s are the most common age group to experience the first onset of psychosis.
For them, the issue isn't guns. It is access to mental health care—a person being able to get help when it's needed. Commitment is needed to a mental health care system that includes mental health screening, early intervention, evidence-based mental health treatment and services, and family education and support.
Starting this weekend, let the National Dialogue begin to build a strong national consensus from the bottom up. The President, Congress and state governments have already begun rising to the challenge, but more work is needed.
The National Dialogue must help point the way, including a commitment to the long haul—to achieve the goal of recovery for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope.