National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Proposals Represent Consistency, Continuity and Hope for Change;May Give Momentum to Domenici-Kennedy Legislation

Statement by Jacqueline L. Shannon, President,
Board of Directors, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

For Immediate Release, February 2, 2001
Contacts: Bob Carolla 703-516-7963

NAMI applauds President George W. Bush for renewing his commitment today to sign executive orders to fulfill promises made during his election campaign concerning mental illness policies.

The President’s intentions originally were outlined in his “New Freedom” speech on the rights of people with disabilities, delivered in Portland, Maine on June 15, 2000. They will build on the foundations of the landmark Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health and offer new hope for change in a mental healthcare system that is grossly inadequate.

NAMI welcomes the creation of a National Commission on Mental Health to study and make recommendations for improving America’s mental health service delivery system. NAMI strongly urges that the National Commission reflect the approach and priorities of a similar commission proposal contained in S..2639, legislation introduced last year by Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA). Several provisions of S.2639 already have been enacted. The President has a significant opportunity to continue to build on a tradition of bipartisan cooperation in Congress on mental illness issues, by adopting the framework of S.2639’s provisions.

NAMI also applauds the President's commitment to sign executive orders to implement fully the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWIIA) enacted in 1999, and to help states move to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision that same year.

Together, these orders will offer hope of greater independence and community integration for people with psychiatric disabilities. The President has committed his administration to supporting the removal of unfair barriers to people with serious mental illnesses living and working in local communities.

The President’s commitment offers hope for needed change in the nation’s mental healthcare systems, hope for effective treatment, hope for recoveries, and hope for the future for millions of Americans.