FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The National Council for Behavioral Health issued the following statement from Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO, in response to President Trump’s suggestion that the United States should forcibly institutionalize people with serious mental illness as a response to mass violence.
Let’s be perfectly clear. The president is suggesting we return to an era of forcibly warehousing people with serious mental illness. The nation tried that approach and, rightfully abandoned it decades ago because it did not work. It did not work because it was applying a criminal solution to a health problem. And it did not work because it robbed people of their dignity. People living with serious mental illness need and deserve quality mental health treatment.
As a nation, we must not allow people with mental illness to become scapegoats for the urgent problem of mass violence, particularly perpetrated by individuals with guns. Research shows that people with serious mental illness are responsible for less than four percent of all violence and less than one-third of mass violence. We must address this urgent problem with real solutions that tackle the complex underlying problems.
For decades, this country has underfunded and undervalued mental health and substance use care with devastating results. Today, only 43% of all people living with mental illness receive treatment for their condition. That is a national disgrace. We urge the president to embrace comprehensive solutions that recognize the essential truth: without mental health, there is no health.
Today, community behavioral health organizations simply do not have the resources to meet the needs in their communities. We must change that. Congress is currently considering legislation — with strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and House — that would reinvest in the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) program. CCBHCs are on the front lines, providing 24/7 crisis care along with support for law enforcement officers responding to people in crisis.
We have made tremendous progress as a nation, reducing stigma and expanding access to care. But we have so much more to do. I urge President Trump to embrace solutions that bring the nation together, united in a commitment to value the mental health of all its people.
President and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health