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Obama Calls for National Debate on Mental Health
Date:6/4/2013

MONDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- The United States must bring the issue of mental illness "out of the shadows" with a more vigorous national discussion, President Barack Obama said Monday in opening a one-day White House conference on mental health.

People affected by mental illness need to know that they should not suffer in silence, Obama added, according to an Associated Press report.

"There should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love," the president said according to CNN. "We've got to get rid of that embarrassment. We've got to get rid of that stigma. Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are suffering in silence rather than seeking help."

The conference is part of Obama's response to last year's shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. While he stressed that most people with mental illness are not violent, Obama also noted that untreated mental health problems can lead to tragedies such as the Sandy Hook shooting, the AP reported.

"We can do something about stories like this," he said. "In many cases, treatment is available and effective."

The agenda at the conference includes recognizing signs of mental illness in young people, improving veterans' access to mental health services, and insurance coverage for mental health care and substance abuse. The general objective is to reduce the stigma of mental illness and to encourage people with mental health problems to seek help, the AP reported.

Dr. Carol Bernstein, past president of the American Psychiatric Association, called the conference "an important initial step in the effort to insure that persons suffering from mental illness and substance abuse disorders receive the treatment they need and deserve."

She added, "Major organizations committed to guaranteeing appropriate mental health ca
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