President Obama on mental health care

*Please note: This blog post was authored by Stephanie Yin, a Human Development and Family Sciences major at the University of Texas and the new Public Policy Intern for NAMI Texas.

This morning, President Obama and VP Biden held a press conference covering the issue of gun violence. Twenty-three proposals for minimizing the rate of gun violence and for increasing the safety of Americans were introduced. One of the proposals touched on the topic of improving mental health services. The Obama administration is currently suggesting $25 million as an incentive for states to work towards innovative approaches to reach out to young adults in need of treatment for mental illnesses. The age group of 16-25 years is targeted since it has the highest rates of mental illness and is found to be the least likely to seek help. Project Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (Project AWARE) is another part of the plan in improving mental health services. Project AWARE includes Mental Health First Aid training to educate teachers and school staff in recognizing signs of mental illnesses in young adults and how to refer them to treatment. $40 million is suggested to go into this project so that schools may work with law enforcement and local facilities to provide mental health services to students. 5,000 more mental health professionals will also be trained to focus on helping students and young adults. Lastly, the President intends to release finalized rules on the federal mental health parity law, which requires insurance companies to cover mental disabilities the same way that they would with physical disabilities.

More resources: 

 The video of the press conference can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=s7ri0U7jSs8

-“Now is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence”: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/wh_now_is_the_time_full.pdf

-Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ State Health Official Letter on the application of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to Medicaid managed care organizations, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and alternative benefit (benchmark) plans: http://www.medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/downloads/SHO-13-001.pdf

-USA Today article on the President’s mental health announcements: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2013/01/16/obama-calls-for-changes-to-mental-health-care/1839733/

-TheHill.com article on the President’s mental health announcements: http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/mental-health/277529-obama-gun-plan-calls-for-long-awaited-rules-on-mental-health#ixzz2IA634NzX

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