National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Election 2006: Five Reasons to Vote

October 2006

Election Day is Tuesday, November 7

Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the Unites States. It affects one out of every five Americans. It does not discriminate between Republicans, Democrats, or independents.

NAMI encourages people to find out the views of candidates concerning mental illness and the healthcare system. Information can be obtained from candidate Web sites, the news media, or by asking questions at candidate forums.   Candidate profiles, positions, and contact information can be found in NAMIs new online Legislative Action Center Visit .

And then make sure to vote.

Here are five reasons to vote, representing six major areas of concern. They are relevant for all candidates—local, state, or federal.

  1. Millions of Americans and their families struggle because they cannot get access to treatment. What will a candidate do to improve access and support for recovery?
  2. A recent report of the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that as many a half of all inmates in jails and prisons have serious mental illnesses. What will a candidate do to reduce the number of such individuals being put in the criminal justice system?
  3. Medicaid is the single largest payer of mental health treatment. Millions of Americans with mental illnesses rely on it.What specific reforms does a candidate support for Medicaid. How will they affect people diagnosed with mental illness? Does a candidate support co-payments or limits on prescriptions?
  4. Families who struggle to fund treatment for children and teenagers with mental illnesses are in crisis. There are services that work, but they are often not available in local communities. What will a candidate do to address the problem?
  5. Building a healthcare system for the future requires attention to racial and ethnic disparities in care, and sensitivity to the cultures of different communities. What will a candidate do to eliminate disparities in mental health care and to provide better treatment and services to specific racial and ethnic communities?

In NAMIs Grading the States report earlier this year, which surveyed state mental healthcare systems, the national average was D. No state received an A. Only five states received Bs. Eight received Fs. Clearly, as a nation, and at the state and local level, we can do better. We need leaders who will give priority to addressing these vital areas of concern.