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NAMI News Release For Immediate Release: June 28, 2002

Presidential Commission Seeks New Era for Mental Health Care

Contact: Bob Carolla or Anne-Marie Chace (Cincinnati: 513-784-6033, After 6/30/02: 703-524-7600)

Cincinnati, OH - Charles Curie, head of the federal Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and member of President Bush's newly-appointed New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, told members of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) at their annual convention today that the nation's mental health care system needs to enter a new "era of recovery" driven by consumer and family needs and preferences.

"The system fails if people don't achieve a life," Curie said, which is defined by three elements: a safe place to live, a job, and meaningful personal relationships and connections to a community.

He identified three key priorities for the Commission:

  • Improving the science-to-services cycle (currently 15 to 20 years) in which research is used to improve programs
  • Support newer, evidence-based, more cost-effective treatment for co-occuring mental and addictive disorders
  • Eliminate use of the criminal justice system as a substitute for community-based mental health services.

Curie also signaled an intention to change the way SAMHSA "does business" based on three criteria:

  • Accountability
  • Capacity
  • Effectiveness

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