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Obama Calls For End To Mental Illness Stigma

President Obama delivers remarks to open the National Conference on Mental Health at the White House, part of the Administration’s effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness about mental health.

President Obama delivered remarks to open the National Conference on Mental Health at the White House on Monday, part of the Administration’s effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness about mental health.


More than 60 percent of Americans with mental illness do not receive treatment, many of them because they are embarrassed or afraid of being ostracized, Obama said, speaking at a White House conference on mental health.

"We wouldn't accept it if only 40 percent of Americans with cancers got treatment," Obama said. "So why should we accept it when it comes to mental health?"

Obama promised to start a "national conversation" on mental health after the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school last year, although he did not mention the tragedy in his remarks on Monday.

Health insurers will no longer be able to use mental illness, just like any other pre-existing condition, to deny coverage to any individual. Easier access to insurance should provide some benefit to people suffering with mental illness, however the stigma attached to mental illness could still prevent sufferers from seeking treatment. To see for yourself that the stigma is still rampant, all you need to do is read the response to Obama's efforts on a conservative blog. Sadly, there are still people who insist that even depression isn't a "real" illness.

That attitude must be overcome for adults, children, and veterans who shy away from seeking treatment due to the stigma. As the President noted, there are now 22 veterans each and every day lost to suicide. Doing your part to end the stigma could help bring that rate down...or even save them all.

The administration has enlisted the media, educators, health care providers, faith communities, and foundations in the effort to bring mental illness out of the shadows:

Some examples of these commitments are as follows: The National Association of Broadcasters, made up of local television and radio stations across the country and the broadcast networks, is developing a national public awareness campaign to reduce negative attitudes and perceptions about mental illness through television and radio ads, and social media. A number of organizations that work with young people are making new commitments—from secondary school principals across the country holding assemblies on mental health awareness to the YMCA teaching its staff and summer camp counselors to recognize the signs of depression and other mental health issues in kids. A diverse group of communities of faith have committed to launch new conversations about mental health in our houses of worship. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Medical professionals, foundations, technology companies and many others are launching new efforts that will make a difference.

Let's see where all those conservatives who after Newtown said the answer to gun violence is more mental health treatment are at now.

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