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It's Not About Guns: The Presidential Debate and Mental Illness

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 17, 2012 -- Last night, the presidential debates finally talked about mental illness, but in the same breath as criminals and guns.

Never mind that one in four American adults experience a mental health problem in any given year, that less than one-third get treatment, and that the U.S. Surgeon General determined over a decade ago that "the overall contribution of mental disorders to the total level of violence in society is exceptionally small."

People living with mental illness are 10 times more likely to be victims of violence as the general population.

"President Obama and Governor Romney missed a chance to address root causes of the real issue. The problem is the crippling neglect of mental health care in our country," said Michael J. Fitzpatrick , executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

"When violence occurs, it is usually a sign that something has gone terribly wrong in the mental health care system. The solution is not to stigmatize the vast majority of people who live with mental illness."

"America's mental health crisis has been made worse by state budget cuts in mental healthcare. Presidential leadership is important. Turning the mental health care system around is going to require commitments from Congress, governors and state legislators—every candidate at all levels."

NAMI is the sponsor of the non-partisan "Mental Health Care Gets My Vote" campaign, which advocates the following priorities:

  • Protect mental health funding.
  • Expand access to mental health coverage.
  • Ensure that effective mental health services are available.
  • Promote integration of mental health, addictions and primary care.
  • Improve the mental health of children, youth and young adults.
  • Meet the mental health needs of service members, veterans and their families.
  • Provide homes and jobs for people living with mental illness
  • Eliminate disparities in mental health care.
  • End inappropriate jailing of people with mental illness.

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

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