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December 13, 1999

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"This report underscores the need to continue to strengthen our nation's mental health system and fight the stigma associated with mental illness so all Americans can get the treatment and services they need to live full and productive lives."

Tipper Gore
Monday, December 13, 1999

Today, at the White House, Tipper Gore joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala and Surgeon General David Satcher in releasing the first-ever Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health.The report states that a range of effective treatments exists for most mental disorders, yet nearly half of all Americans with a severe mental illness fail to seek treatment. The report also focuses on the connection between mental health and physical health, barriers to receiving mental health treatment, and the specific mental health issues of children, adults, and the elderly.

Millions of Americans Suffer from Mental Disorders. One in five Americans is living with a mental health disorder. Four out of the 10 leading causes of disability for people over the age of five are mental disorders. Major depression is the leading cause of disability among developed nations, and manic depressive illness, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder also rank at the top. Mental disorders are tragic contributors to mortality, with suicide being one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States. About 15 percent of adults use some form of mental health service each year.

Working to Dispel Myths and Improve Treatment. The Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health:

  • Documents that mental illnesses are diagnosable conditions, and new, effective treatments offer more options than ever before;
  • Identifies the need to reduce stigma and dispel myths about mental health;
  • Seeks to improve public awareness of mental illness and treatment options, and encourages people to get help; and
  • Establishes the need for mental health providers and services, and delivery of state-of-the-art treatments.

A Longstanding Commitment to Improving Mental Health. The Clinton-Gore Administration's record of accomplishments on improving mental health include:

  • Fought for the largest-ever increase in community mental health services;
  • Fought for the Work Incentives Improvement Act to help people with disabilities keep their health care coverage when they return to work;
  • Directed the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to come into full mental-health parity;
  • Held the first-ever White House Conference on Mental Health;
  • Ensured that the Children's Health Insurance Program offer a strong mental health benefit; and
  • Passed the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 requiring insurers to have parity between physical and mental health for annual and lifetime benefits.

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