By David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO
Advocacy has been at the root of our work since our founding a century ago this year. We have much to be proud of—and much work to do.
Just a little over a year ago, we celebrated the enactment of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. We have built on that milestone achievement by winning inclusion of mental health and substance use benefits in every key health care reform bill now being considered by Congress.
We want to ensure the principle of parity is also included in any final plan and that the legislation makes prevention of mental health and substance use conditions a priority. We are also pressing for strong regulations implementing the new parity law that so they reflect Congressional intent and ensure access to mental health services.
As we work in Washington to expand coverage and increase access, we recognize the current economic crisis is harming the mental health of Americans and reducing needed services. A recent nationwide survey we joined in conducting demonstrated how the economic downturn is affecting the mental health of Americans. The results show that the economic disruption is increasing suicidal thoughts and severe mental health symptoms to four times their ordinary rate.
We are responding to these consequences. Working in concert with fellow mental health organizations, we are deploying resources and advocacy tools on the state level to prevent additional cuts that have already badly damaged services and programs.
We cannot and will not rest on our achievements, but build on Mental Health America's legacy of action and accomplishment to transform care and improve the overall health of America. ::
David L. Shern, Ph.D.
President & CEO
"We can not and will not rest on our achievements..."
—David L. Shern Ph. D.