APA Calls for Open Dialogue on Mental Illness

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Recent disparaging and inaccurate remarks about mental illness serve only to perpetuate stigma and prohibit honest and open dialogue about an illness (or disorder) that affects one in five people in the nation. Now is the time for us to come together and look for a bipartisan solution that ensures early intervention and access to mental health and substance use treatment rather than taking steps backward. With the scientific advances in prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery today, we should be moving forward in caring for people with mental illness and substance abuse. Despite increased public awareness about mental health issues, accessing treatment remains a challenging task due to multiple factors, such as fragmented delivery and reimbursement systems, regulatory barriers, and workforce shortages. We must also work together to create more public education and awareness regarding persons with mental illness to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illnesses as we did for persons with HIV/AIDS and cancer in the past.

We call upon the President, Congress, and the country to join us in a meaningful dialogue on improving mental health care in this country. We welcome the opportunity to discuss ways to:

  • Enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, to ensure that health insurance coverage provides timely access to a full range of mental health and substance use disorder providers and services. These efforts must explicitly remedy/redress the discrimination against mental health providers and their patients that has resulted in the documented shortages of these providers participating in health insurance plans, which is a significant barrier to consumers accessing their coverage.
  • Improve access to quality mental health and substance use services by addressing workforce shortages; implementing evidence-based, innovative health care delivery models; and ensuring adequate funding so that communities have available a continuum of outpatient and inpatient services, including treatment options for people in crisis.
  • Invest in research to improve early detection and intervention for mental illnesses through translational studies, which will help us turn preclinical and clinical research insights and discoveries into new diagnostics and therapeutics that meaningfully impact patients’ lives.

The American Psychiatric Association stands ready to work with the Administration and Congress to achieve these goals.

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,800 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.

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