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On June 7, 1999, Tipper Gore, advisor to the President on Mental Health and wife of the Vice-President, will chair the first White House Conference on Mental Health along with the President, Vice-President, and First Lady at Howard University in Washington, DC. The conference will bring together consumers, advocates, researchers, business and medical professionals, to discuss mental health issues that affect over 50 million Americans. The conference, which is close to being finalized, will cover such issues as mental health research, pharmacology, service delivery, and insurance coverage. Also, the President is scheduled to make major policy announcements regarding mental health and his vision for the future.
The agenda for the conference is as follows:
The conference in Washington, D.C. at Howard University will host 400 invitees, and invitations to the event should be received by early next week.
In order to include as many people as possible, the White House has set up a satellite broadcast of the event. The satellite broadcasts are scheduled from 12:30 - 2:00 (EST) for the first session, and 3:30 - 5:00 (EST) for the second session, C-SPAN is also expected to carry the conference live. There is hope that there will be over a thousand satellite downlink sites across the country. A satellite (C-Band and KU Band frequency) downlink can be received by any location that has a satellite dish connected to a television, such possible locations are colleges/universities, local government offices, hospitals, or hotels. There will also be a few selected sites, still to be announced which will be interactive teleconference sites where the participants at these sites can ask questions of Tipper Gore, the Vice President, or any speaker at the Howard University event.
In addition to the downlink sites, the conference will also be presented via web cast. The web cast is available to anyone with Internet access and viewers of the satellite broadcast will be able to submit questions through NASA's chatroom. NASA and NIH will host this broadcast with instructions on how to link up with the web cast available on the White House Conference web site.
Also, on the White House conference Web site, are instructions on how to set up your own local conference on Mental Health, including facilitator guidelines, meeting suggestions and evaluation forms. It is the hope of the conference that communities will select a site to receive the downlink broadcast and invite speakers from their own community to speak on mental health issues. Currently, thirty-seven public sites have been registered in twenty-four states--check the Web site to find out if your community is registered.
NAMI members are encouraged to set up a downlink broadcast and create a local conference dedicated to issues that are important to people with severe mental illnesses and their families. Although the conference will have a broad agenda, this is an opportunity for NAMI members to draw attention to the issues surrounding services, and care for people with severe mental illnesses and their families. Contact local hospitals or universities (they may be able to provide a room at little or no cost) for a possible satellite site and register your site publicly on the White House Conference Web site. As soon as the White House makes its final decision on the three interactive sites, NAMI will provide that information, or check the conference Web site for further details. Please contact Kim Encarnation at the NAMI office for more information, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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