NIMH director testifies before Senate on violence and mental disorders
On Jan. 24, NIMH Director Tom Insel was called to testify (PDF, 112KB) before the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing titled, "Assessing the State of America's Mental Health System," the committee's first hearing on mental health in more than five years. The hearing was called by Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., with bipartisan attendance of Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.I, Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark., Al Franken, D-Minn., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Michael Bennet, D-Colo. Although the hearing was scheduled in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., both members and witnesses reiterated that there is a very low correlation between mental disorders and violence. Speaking on a panel along with Pam Hyde, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Insel testified, "Research has suggested that persons with schizophrenia whose psychotic symptoms are controlled are no more violent than those without serious mental illness (SMI). Moreover, people with SMI are 11 times more likely than the general population to be victims themselves of violence." In his written testimony, Insel stated that, "moving forward, NIMH aims to support research on earlier diagnosis and quicker delivery of appropriate treatment, be it behavioral or pharmacological."
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