LANSING – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today met with dozens of mental health and local community leaders at the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties to discuss initiatives she is championing to strengthen mental health services. A life-long advocate for quality mental health services, Sen. Stabenow is leading a bipartisan coalition in working to help de-stigmatize mental health and ensure Americans can get the care they need.
Senator Stabenow said: “Strengthening mental health services isn’t partisan. It is an important issue that all of our families are touched by in some way. We need to treat mental health the same as physical health, and while we have made some strides, we must do more to raise the bar on mental health treatment. With a renewed focus on mental health issues in Congress, now is the time to improve mental health services so families can get the care and support they need.”
Robert Sheehan, Executive Director of the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties said: “We must do more to strengthen community mental health and substance abuse services, which are absolutely vital to Michigan families in need of care. We are very pleased to host Senator Stabenow’s mental health forum, and we appreciate her continued advocacy to improve mental health care in our country.”
Across the country, one-third of all people living with mood disorders do not receive treatment and fewer than half of those with severe mental disorders receive treatment of any kind in a given year. In addition, with at least 25% of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan experiencing some type of mental health condition, Community Mental Health Centers are expected to soon be serving 200,000 veterans.
As Chairwoman of the State House Mental Health Committee in the 1980’s, Stabenow led efforts to strengthen mental health services, including authoring the Children’s Mental Health Act, and the nationally recognized Family Support Subsidy Act. According to a press release from her office, Senator Stabenow has continued her advocacy in Congress and as Michigan’s U.S. Senator, championing initiatives to strengthen mental health services by:
Treating Mental Health the Same as Physical Health
Senator Stabenow believes that mental health parity – making sure those living with mental health conditions are have the same access to treatment as those with physical conditions – is a fundamental step to ensure those who need treatment are able to get it. It was her amendment in the Senate Finance Committee that included mental health parity as part of our nation’s health care reform law, and now she is sponsoring legislation with a bipartisan coalition that would expand access to treatment, improve the quality of care and put local community mental health centers on more equal footing with federally qualified health centers.
Improving Mental Health Research and Training
Senator Stabenow has been working to raise the bar on research and treatment of mental disorders. She is also working to give our first responders the tools they need to better recognize the signs of mental illness and connect people with the care they need.
Expanding Access to Mental Health Services for Children and Youth
One in five U.S. children has some kind of mental health disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Senator Stabenow has been especially focused on making sure that children and families struggling with mental health issues get the support they need.
For a complete summary of Sen. Stabenow’s mental health initiatives, click here.