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  • June 2013
    M T W T F S S
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Coming to a family near you: maybe your family. Major strides forward in mental health care for America!

Posted by lboyd544 on June 5, 2013

On Monday I was privileged to join 123 other mental health colleagues, researchers, and advocates for a White House Conference on Mental Health. The Conference was a combined planning effort of many Administration officials: HHS Secretary Sibelius, SAMHSA head Pam Hyde, US Secretary of Education Arn Duncan, the Office of the President, and the Office of the Vice President. Each speaker, Administration and other, was excellent…including Glenn Close and Bradley Cooper.

Repeatedly, speakers shared their personal stories and noted this Administration’s actions to remove the stigma of seeking mental health services, to create parity for mental health services with bio-medical services, and to unveil the 1-in-5 Americans who will experience the need for some sort of mental health response each year as typical, contributing, honorable individuals who populate our work force of elected officials, teachers, laborers, parents, medical professionals, and every “walk” of Americans you can imagine.

Special emphasis was given the needs and responses to returning combat veterans and to teens and young adults struggling with suicidal thoughts and mental health issues.

Over and over, through much discussion and many examples, several major themes emerged:
1- mental health distress/illness is more common than any other health condition
2- the availability of a family member or friend to confide in and receive ‘acceptance’ is paramount
3- solutions, treatment, and appropriate response protocols for healing exist; however, stigma is prevalent everywhere, subtle and not so subtle.
4- access to services, sufficient numbers of mental health workers, and parity of consideration by insurance carriers are challenges we must address.

The good news:
This crucial dialogue has begun in a myriad of public forums. National press, TV networks, and social media have committed to raising awareness through programs, PSAs, and on-line resources. The Obama Administration has proposed significant budget allocations to inform and treat mental illness. And, there is bipartisan legislation in the Senate and House to address services, access, and quality in this arena.

The danger is whether Congress will act vs. get bogged down again in partisan disputes. Citizens and advocates cannot allow that to happen. We must speak out to our elected officials. We must be the ‘noise’.

More soon on what was ‘missing’ from the agenda yesterday…..

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