For Information Contact:
Eve Herold, 703-907-8640
Erin Connors, 703-907-8562
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 3, 2013) – Today, President Obama and Vice President Biden hosted a National Conference on Mental Health at the White House as part of the Administration’s effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness about mental health. Several key APA leaders participated in the conference, including Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., APA President and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University.
Dr. Lieberman said, “We commend the Administration’s efforts through this national dialogue to focus attention and resources on important mental health issues and the need to eliminate stigma and improve access to quality care for all individuals who need mental health services. An important part of that access is insurance coverage for mental health treatment, and we look forward to working with the Administration to fully implement parity for mental health care nationwide.”
Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a Senior Strategic Advisor for the APA, who also attended the conference, emphasized the need for a White House focus on fully implementing the 2008 Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. “We need the federal government to take the lead, making sure that insurance companies honor the parity act by covering mental health and substance use disorders on the same footing as any other health problems. Only then will patients throughout the country be assured that they are receiving the coverage they are paying for.”
In an effort to help better address mental health issues in the primary care setting, APA is partnering with the American Medical Association to disseminate educational materials developed by the APA to help physicians in all specialties better integrate mental health screenings into their practices, reduce misperceptions of mental illness, and direct patients to additional mental health services when needed.
Also participating in the meeting were Paul Summergrad, M.D., APA President-Elect and Chair of Psychiatry at Tufts University, Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of Psychiatric News, host of the television series “Healthy Minds,” and President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.
The conference brought together people from across the country, including representatives from state and local governments, mental health advocates, educators, health care providers, faith leaders, and individuals who have struggled with mental health problems, to discuss how to reduce stigma and help the millions of Americans struggling with mental health problems recognize the importance of reaching out for assistance.
To continue the conversation and to provide information and resources, the Department of Health and Human Services today launched a new website, www.mentalhealth.gov. For more on mental health issues visit www.psychiatry.org/mental-health.
The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose physician members specialize in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses including substance use disorders. Visit the APA at www.psychiatry.org.