White House Says Mental Health Matters
What a great day for mental health awareness in America. Was pleased to be a part of the White House National Conference on Mental Health on June 3, 2013 hosted by the President Obama and Vice President Biden. A much-needed PR event that launched a national public engagement campaign around mental health. From Hollywood to Washington, there was a rallying cry to keep the conversation about mental health going.
Bradley Cooper, Patrick Kennedy, Glenn Close, Arne Duncan, Joe Biden, President Obama, and many others made an eloquent appeal to help the millions of Americans struggling with mental health problems recognize the importance of reaching out for help. Loved how the Vice President brought Patrick Kennedy, a true American hero and one of behavioral health’s greatest champions, on stage. How fitting as we celebrate the legacy his uncle JFK created 50 years ago by passing the Community Mental Health Act of 1963.
I have to admit, I think talking about stigma increases stigma. But the White House dialogue dealt with the topic quite eloquently — it was reiterated over and over that talking openly about mental illness is the best way to encourage those in need to seek help.
Most encouraging to me was the emphasis on social media outreach and on involving our young people in the conversation about mental health. Myths are busted when we educate our youth to talk openly about mental illness and to reach out to their friends in need. So proud that the National Council has been able to keep the social media conversation alive and to offer Mental Health First Aid, especially the youth version, to our communities.
Thanks to Mental Health First Aid USA, 100,000 people now know how to have conversations with their neighbors, family members, colleagues, and friends about mental health and substance abuse. They don’t fear. They don’t avoid and isolate. This offers hope. Soon, we’ll be able to talk about mental illness like we do about cancer or HIV-AIDS. The resulting public engagement and outcry for help will lead our policymakers to channel increased resources toward treating mental illness and one day, to find a cure. #mentalhealthmatters