MHA Meets with Vice President Biden's Newtown Task Force | Mental Health America

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MHA Meets with Vice President Biden's Newtown Task Force

Mental Health America Meets with Vice President’s Newtown Task Force

Joins with Mental Health Community in Urging Greater Attention to Mental Illness, Stigma; Promoting Children’s Safety and Development

Contact: Steve Vetzner, (707) 797-2588 or

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (January 10, 2013)—Wayne W. Lindstrom, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America, today said his meeting on Wednesday with Vice President Joe Biden’s Newtown Task Force stressed to administration officials the importance of focusing greater attention on mental illness while de-coupling it from any propensity toward violence, and on implementing preventive approaches, erasing stigma, and promoting children’s safety and development.

Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Pam Hyde, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, hosted the meeting, which in addition to Dr. Lindstrom was attended by fellow leaders of the mental health community, including former Representative Patrick Kennedy.

At the request of the task force, Mental Health America submitted recommendations prior to the meeting, which addressed the importance of investing in mental health services that increase capacity and capabilities and promote hope, recovery and community inclusion.

“We stressed the chronic underfunding of mental health programs, but emphasized that when properly supported, people do recover from even the most serious illnesses and this is no less true of mental illness. We all viewed this as a singular opportunity to educate the public so we can change the conversation, take mental health out of the shadows, and eliminate stigma and shame,” Dr. Lindstrom said.

“We emphasized that there are effective, evidenced-based and promising practices for prevention, intervention and treatments of mental health conditions and we need the funding to implement them.

“We know we can’t predict behavior, but we can help children early on, build resiliency and lessen the risk of problems so they are able to achieve and reach their full potential. The highly praised block-by-block program created by Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, is one important program that is working. We need similar approaches and attention to every square block in the country.”

Dr. Lindstrom said he and fellow leaders also stressed that full implementation of the Affordable Care Act and release of a final administrative rule on Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act were essential to addressing unmet needs.

“These critical laws will improve access to care while making it more affordable,” he said. “Mental health and substance abuse services must be fully integrated with quality medical care.  In order to meet the potential expanding service demand that comes with enhanced benefits, coverage, and awareness, we must also maintain and grow the professional and peer support workforce.”

Dr. Lindstrom said the task force plans to reengage him and fellow mental health leaders on the concrete actions that the Administration will propose to take.

Mental Health America (, 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.


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