STATEMENT OF SUZANNE VOGEL-SCIBILIA OF BEAVER COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS
TO THE LABOR-HHS-EDUCATION SUBCOMMITTEE, COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, UNITED STATES SENATE
FY 2007 FUNDING FOR THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
MAY 19, 2006
Chairman Specter and Senator Harkin, my name is Dr. Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia. I am currently the President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness as well as being a practicing psychiatrist, family member of many persons with mental illness and a person with bipolar disorder. I have had periods of very severe illness including catatonic episodes and three suicide attempts. Due to aggressive treatment and social supports I am living a full life - I am thankful. But many people in our country have not yet achieved recovery. If Congress cuts funding to NIMH as the President has suggested we will continue to have millions of people in this country with chronic disability and a $40 billion dollar loss in economic productivity for schizophrenia alone.
Because of the past doubling of the research budget, NIMH has brought forth vitally important real world trials that impact treatment for all persons with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression but we will loose the chance to define the individualized strategies and future medication options that this vital research heralds. A third generation of antipsychotic medication for schizophrenia, stronger antidepressant medication for depression and less kindling treatment strategies for bipolar disorder are crucially important to those who suffer and will not be realized without further support from the federal government.
We will be unable to fund in the United States whole genome studies for serious mental illness which could transform the understanding of the causes and risk factors for these devastating illnesses and open new avenues for effective treatment.
We will be unable to advance schizophrenia and bipolar research progress - one example is understanding if early intervention with medication, therapy and rehabilitation will prevent disability or morbidity in persons with new onset schizophrenia.
Lastly we will be unable to address and prevent the epidemic of suicide in this country including a substantial number of our young people who die or are disabled before their life has truly started and the elderly who are cheated from their retirement years. For myself, my children and the people who belong to over 1100 affiliates of NAMI in the United States of America, we humbly thank you for this forum to express our concerns and hope that research dollars will be provided to help those who suffer - thank you.
NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS * 2107 Wilson Blvd., #300 * Arlington, VA 22201 * 703-524-7600 * www.nami.org