July 27, 2005

American Psychological Association Lauds Action Agendas to Transform U.S. Mental Health System

WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association (APA) lauds today's release of the Campaign for Mental Health Reform's action agenda, Emergency Response: A Roadmap for Federal Action on America's Mental Health Crisis, designed to help the federal government transform the delivery of mental health services. The Campaign's announcement comes on the heels of a complementary plan issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) entitled, Transforming Mental Health Care in America, issued on July 22.

"Both the Campaign for Mental Health Reform and SAMHSA are to be congratulated for taking positive steps toward improving the nation's mental health care system," says Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of the APA. "When implemented, these plans will enable people with mental health disorders to receive more timely and more appropriate care coordinated within a workable mental health service delivery system. Our Association looks forward to working with the Campaign and SAMHSA to help make this mental health initiative a reality. "

Both the Campaign and SAMHSA plans are in response to the 2003 final report of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health which recommended transformation of the quality and efficiency of mental health services. President Bush established the Commission in April 2002 as part of his New Freedom Initiative to eliminate inequality for Americans with disabilities, charging it with the first comprehensive study of the nation's public and private mental health service delivery system since President Carter's 1978 Mental Health Commission 25 years ago.

The Campaign proposes specific action items Congress and the Administration should take to address the critical issues identified by the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. It provides a detailed action plan for additional legislative goals to coordinate and align more effectively Federal, state, and local resources to get the right services to the right people at the right time. Among the 28 action items included in the Roadmap report are proposals by the Campaign to:

  • end discrimination by private health insurance plans through enactment of parity legislation;
  • better utilize Medicaid dollars by providing cost-effective home- and community-based care in lieu of institutional care, and permitting states to utilize Medicaid dollars for comprehensive treatment plans;
  • allow families to buy-into Medicaid to access services for a child with a disability;
  • end the unconscionable and costly "warehousing" of youth with mental disorders and fund programs to divert people with mental illness who have committed nonviolent crimes into treatment instead of jail or prison;
  • end discrimination against mental health treatment in Medicare, which requires higher co-payments for mental health outpatient care and limits inpatient hospital coverage for mental health treatment;
  • provide early identification and effective treatment for returning service members and veterans at risk of post-traumatic stress disorders and their families;
  • provide early detection and intervention services to mothers and children who receive health care at federally funded maternal and child health clinics;
  • permit presumptive eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid for people who are homeless and have a serious mental illness.

The Roadmap also supports the recommendations made in both the President's New Freedom Commission report and the Surgeon General's Report, Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity, that several disparities exist that affect the mental health care of racial and ethnic minorities as compared with whites and need to be addressed.

The Campaign for Mental Health Reform is a national partnership of organizations representing millions of people with mental and emotional disorders, their families, service providers and other concerned Americans. The Campaign has been organized as the mental health community's voice on federal policy. APA is a partner among the sixteen national organizations in this coalition.

For additional information on the Campaign for Mental Health Reform's action plan, visit www.mhreform.org and for APA's involvement with the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, visit http://www.apa.org/about/gr/pi/advocacy/freedom-commission.aspx.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.