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McCain, Obama: What If They Need Mental Health Care?

October 20, 2008

One in four Americans experience mental health problems at some point during their lifetime.

If John McCain or Barack Obama were to ever need to seek help from their home states through public mental health services, they would be appalled. So too would Joe Biden or Sarah Palin.

"Mental health care is an essential part of health care reform. It is an issue that every candidate for public office at every level needs to be addressing in this election," said Michael J. Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

In 2003, the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health reported that the nation's public mental health care system is "a system in shambles" in which mental health services are "fragmented, disconnected and often inadequate, frustrating the opportunity for recovery."

In 2006, NAMI published "Grading the States: A Report on the Nation’s Mental Health Care System for Serious Mental Illnesses." In the survey, the national average was D. The home states of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates hardly fared better.

Alaska             D

Arizona           D+

Delaware        C-

Illinois             F

The current issue off "Governing," the influential magazine for state and local government leaders, also declares: "We know how best to care for the mentally ill. But most states lack the political will to coordinate and fund services."

NAMI recently released McCain's and Obama's responses to a questionnaire on mental health care, along with a comparison of provisions from the Democratic and Republican party platforms. The information is presented for public education only. NAMI does not endorse political candidates.

"Mental illness doesn't discriminate between Republicans and Democrats," Fitzpatrick said. "It affects millions of Americans, including veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, families recovering from natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, and families confronting home foreclosures or other financial upheavals."

The National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). NAMI has more than 1,100 state and local affiliates engaged in research, education, support and advocacy. It does not endorse political candidates.


Grading the States

New Freedom Report

Schizophrenia Report

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