National Alliance on Mental Illness
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July 22, 2003

Presidential Commission Report Emphasizes Need To Transform Mental Health System.

President Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health today released its long anticipated final report highlighting the serious fragmentation of the nation's mental health system and emphasizing the desperate need to transform this system.  The report, entitled "Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America", provides recommendations for steps that can be taken at national, state and local levels to  improve mental health services and supports for people of all ages with mental illnesses.

The report is premised on the Commission's conclusion, after a year of study, testimony received from consumers and family members, and consultation with experts that the mental health system in America for children and adults is "beyond simple repair."  Commission Chair Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D emphasized that "the time has long passed for another piece-mail approach to mental health reform.  …  The Commission has found that the time has come for a fundamental transformation of the Nation's approach to mental health care."

To achieve this transformation, the Commission's report sets forth six goals and a series of specific recommendations for federal agencies, states, communities and providers across the country.  The goals include:

  •  To promote recognition that mental health is essential to overall health; 
  •  To achieve significant family and consumer participation in designing and developing systems of care;
  •  To eliminate disparities in mental health services;
  • To promote early detection of mental illness and early interventions for children and adults;
  • To facilitate widespread and consistent use of evidence-based, state of the art treatment and services throughout the mental health system; and
  • To use technology to improve access to mental health care and information.      

In a joint press release issued by the Campaign for Mental Health Reform, NAMI's national executive director, Richard C. Birkel, Ph.D., emphasized that the value of the report will ultimately be measured by whether it leads to meaningful changes in policies and practices.  "We cannot wait another day, another year or another decade for real progress," Birkel said.  "We do not want another Presidential Commission, Surgeon General's report, state audit or newspaper expose telling us what we already know too well.  Let today be the turning point. Let today begin the transformation of a broken system of care to one that provides recovery-oriented, community-based treatment and services that we know will work."   The Campaign's Press Release can be found at:

A copy of the final report can be downloaded at