Leading Organization Calls on Presidential Candidates
To Emphasize Mental Health in Health Policy Plans
Mental Health America Cites Need
To Address Discrimination, Prevention, Integration
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588, email@example.com
Alexandria, Va. (April 24, 2008) Mental Health America is calling on all three presidential candidates to address the critical importance of mental illnesses and mental health in their health policy proposals.
"Any plan to modernize our health care system and proposals to contain costs could hardly find a better target for achieving those goals than mental health," said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. "The candidates take different approaches on health policy. What they have in common is a failure to specifically and fully emphasize the importance of mental illnesses and mental health." (The full text of the letters can be found in the following PDF documents: Obama plan - Clinton plan - McCain plan.)
The three letters review the positions each candidate has taken on health reform and urge them to more fully address and incorporate three major mental health policies as part of their proposals:
- Ending discrimination and ensuring access. Enactment of legislation to outlaw all discriminatory barriers to mental health care is cited as critical to improving health coverage for people with or at risk of mental illness. The letters state that the need is emblematic of a broader principle that the country must approach mental illness and mental health with the same urgency as other illnesses and overall health. An additional consideration is that recovery from a severe mental illness may require different services and supports than other illnesses, and other programs, like Medicaid, must be flexible enough to finance those services.
- Increased emphasis and funding of prevention practices. A National Academies Institute of Medicine report to be issued later in 2008 is expected to underscore the importance of increased emphasis on prevention and health-promotion practices that can impede the onset or reduce the severity of mental health and substance-use disorders in children, youth and young adults.
- Integrating mental and general health care. The letters state that it is critical to recognize that behavioral health interventions are central to preventing and effectively managing chronic disease and must be part of a broader effort around care coordination and integration.
The letters were sent to the policy directors of the respective campaigns. Dr. Shern invited the campaigns to meet with him to discuss the issues more fully.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation - everyday and in times of crisis.