Saturday, May 17, 2008

Congress Passes Rep. Napolitano's Mental Health Month Resolution

16 May 2008

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 1134 today, a resolution introduced by Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk) recognizing May as Mental Health Month.

"An estimated 57 million Americans suffer from diagnosable, treatable mental illnesses," noted Rep. Napolitano. "This number is growing because of the epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among veterans returning from Iraq."

"Only one in three Americans suffering from mental illness receives treatment. This statistic is unconscionable and must do more to improve access to critical services and to remove the stigma associated with seeking help," she added. "America's health practitioners, mental health organizations and community leaders - including those in faith-based communities - should use this opportunity to promote awareness and reduce and eliminate the stigma of treatment; ensure access to appropriate services; and support an improved quality of life for those living with mental illness."

The resolution includes several stunning facts about the cost and scope of the issue:

- 20 percent of the U.S. population has a diagnosable, treatable mental disorder, but only one in three receives any treatment.

- Approximately one in five children has an early, diagnosable mental disorder

- Untreated mental illness cost businesses and the American economy over $150 billion last year in lost productivity and absenteeism.

- More than one in five of our troops suffer from major depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

- More than half of all prison and jail inmates suffer from mental illness.

"Mental illnesses are diagnosable and treatable," concluded Napolitano. "Congress must act to ensure parity in treatment by investing in effective mental health programs that will lead to healthier and more productive lives for millions of Americans."

Rep. Napolitano is co-chair of the House Mental Health Caucus and a leading spokeswoman for mental health issues.

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