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Mental Health America Applauds President Obama For Making Mental Health A Priority, Expanding Access To Services In Gun Violence Plan

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Statement of Wayne W. Lindstrom, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America:

"We applaud President Obama for making mental health a priority, including expanding mental health services and placing an emphasis on prevention, early identification and treatment of mental health conditions, in the plan he issued today. He has embraced many of the steps and initiatives that Mental Health America had recommended to Vice President Biden's Task Force and in meetings with administration officials.

"His attention and commitment to these issues and the actions he announced today represent the beginning of a sea change in the way we look at mental health in this country. His call for a national dialogue on mental health is critical to changing the conversation surrounding mental health, improving understanding and eliminating stigma. We welcome the opportunity to have an active role in the dialogue.

"His announcement committing to a final rule for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, assuring the mental health community that the final rule on the essential health benefits will ensure small group and individual plans in the Exchanges include mental health benefits at parity, and requiring that current state Medicaid programs and the Medicaid expansion cover all required mental health services and comply with parity are all vital to expanding access to services.

"Equally important, the President has recognized the importance of prevention, early identification and treatment of mental health conditions and expanding services to young people. As his plan recognizes, three quarters of mental illnesses appear by the age of 24, yet less than half of children with diagnosable mental health problems receive treatment.

"Mental Health America will also work with House and Senate members to reintroduce the Mental Health in Schools Act (HR 750 in 112th Congress), which would provide funding for public schools across the country to partner with local mental health professionals to establish on-site mental health care services for students. Research has demonstrated that prevention and early intervention strategies strengthen children's and families' mental health and resiliency, prevent or lessen the burden of illness, and help with the recovery from trauma.

"The President today helped promote greater understanding of mental health when he said, 'someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.'

"We believe that as the President and Congress move forward with the proposals announced today, individuals with mental health conditions—57 million Americans—must not be stigmatized or deterred from seeking help and care."

Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net), founded in 1909, is the nation's leading community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our 240 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.

SOURCE Mental Health America

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