On June 3, 2013, President Obama and Vice President Biden hosted a National Conference on Mental Health at the White House. The conference brought together mental health advocates, educators, healthcare experts, faith leaders, members of Congress, and mental health peers to launch a national conversation and increase understanding and awareness about mental health.
“We all know somebody – a family member, a friend, a neighbor – who has struggled or will struggle with mental health issues at some point in their lives,” President Obama explained.
The conference highlighted that millions of Americans suffer from mental health problems in silence and that we need to work together to build awareness and reduce stigma so that individuals who are struggling are more willing to reach out for help. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also moderated a panel of advocates in the mental health field who discussed the barriers to seeking help, primarily stigma, and the steps that we can take to break down these negative attitudes so that people understand the importance of reaching out for help.
Towards this goal, several initiatives have been identified such as expanding mental health coverage, supporting transitional age youth, and improving access to services for veterans. In addition, the administration launched www.mentalhealth.gov, a new website which provides information, resources, and success stories of mental health.
Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA) is encouraged by the dialogue that has been started and is committed to working together to increase understanding and awareness of mental illness while eliminating stigma. “We are hopeful that this conference is just the first of many national discussions to take place and look forward the impact that we can all make together,” said Jill Bolster-White, Executive Director at TMHA.
Transitions-Mental Health Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating stigma and promoting recovery and wellness for people with mental illness through work, housing, community and family support services. TMHA operates 27 programs at over 35 locations that reach over 2,000 people and 1,500 families in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. The emphasis of TMHA’s many services is to teach vital independent living skills, and build a framework for community re-entry through personal empowerment and hands on experience. For over 30 years, TMHA has been dedicated to providing housing, employment, case management and life-skills support to teens and adults with mental illness; and support, resources and education for their loved ones. For more information, visit www.TMHA.org.