THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release December 13, 1999
TIPPER GORE APPLAUDS THE FIRST-EVER SURGEON GENERAL'S REPORT ON MENTAL HEALTH, URGES AMERICANS EXPERIENCING MENTAL PROBLEMS TO SEEK TREATMENT
Landmark Report Documents A "Scientific Revolution" in Mental Health
Research and Services
Today, Tipper Gore, joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala and Surgeon General David Satcher to release the first-ever Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health. This historic report documents that a range of effective treatments exist for most mental disorders, yet nearly half of all Americans who have a severe mental illness fail to seek treatment. The report also focuses on the connection between mental health and physical health, barriers to receiving mental health treatment and the specific mental health issues of children, adults and the elderly.
"The Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health provides a historic opportunity to deepen America's understanding of mental health, " said Tipper Gore, the President's advisor on mental health. "Everyday, in all of our communities, millions of Americans face mental illness. It is an issue that touches us all. This report underscores the need to continue to strengthen our nation's mental health system and fight the stigma associated with mental illness so all Americans can get the treatment and services they need to live full and productive lives."
MILLIONS OF AMERICANS SUFFER FROM MENTAL DISORDERS. One in five Americans is living with a mental health disorder. Four out of the 10 leading causes of disability for people over the age of five are mental disorders. Major depression is the leading cause of disability among developed nations and manic depressive illness, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder also rank at the top. Mental disorders are also tragic contributors to mortality, with suicide perennially representing one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States. About 15 percent of adults use some form of mental health service in any year.
LANDMARK SURGEON GENERAL'S REPORT ON MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDES NEW OPPORTUNITY TO DISPEL MYTHS AND IMPROVE TREATMENT. The first Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health being released today:
Documents that mental illnesses are diagnosable and new effective treatments offer more options than ever before. The report documents that mental illnesses are diagnosable conditions that impact Americans across the lifespan. It also reports that over the last two decades a revolution in science and service delivery has broadened the understanding of mental health and illness and has dramatically improved the way mental health care is treated. The efficacy of mental health treatments is well documented and a range of treatments and delivery strategies exist for most mental disorders.
Highlights need to reduce stigma and dispel myths about mental health. While effective treatments exist, stigma prevents too many Americans from recognizing or acknowledging their own mental health problems and receiving the help they need. In order to reduce the burden of mental illness and improve access to care, this report underscores that stigma must be eliminated. This report helps dispel the myths of mental illness by providing accurate information on the prevalence of mental illnesses and diseases so consumers can be informed and by highlighting mental disorders as diagnosable illnesses that are a critical aspect of overall health.
Seeks to improve public awareness about mental illness. Americans are often unaware of the choices they have for effective mental health treatments. Despite the efficacy of treatment options and the many possible ways of obtaining a treatment choice, nearly half of all Americans who have a severe mental disorder do not seek treatment. This report documents the array of effective treatments for most mental disorders, including counseling, psychotherapy, medication therapy, and rehabilitation, and encourages individuals to seek help. It also underscores the need to improve awareness about mental health and encourage people to seek help.
Documents the need for mental health services and providers and delivery of state-of-the-art treatments. The report states that fundamental components of effective service delivery, including integrated and community based services, continuity of providers and treatments, family support services, and culturally sensitive treatment are broadly agreed upon, but are consistently in short supply. Key personnel shortages include mental health professionals serving children, adolescents, and the elderly with serious mental health disorders. In addition, primary health care providers and schools are often unprepared to assess and to treat individuals who seek help. The report states the need for broader education and strategies to translate the research into community-based action.
THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION'S LONGSTANDING COMMITMENT TO IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH.
- Fought for largest ever increase in community mental health services.
- Fought for Workers' Incentives Improvement Act to help people with disabilities keep their health care coverage when they return to work.
- Directed Federal Employees Health Benefit Program to come into full mental health parity.
- Held the first White House Conference on Mental Health.
- Assured that Children's Health Insurance Program has strong mental health benefit.
- Passed the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 that requires insurers to have parity between physical and mental health for annual and lifetime benefits.
- Fighting for a prescription drug benefit for Medicare and a strong, enforceable patients' bill of rights to assure quality care.
A full copy of the report is available at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov