Mary Rappaport 703-312-7886
Bob Carolla (703) 516-7963
|For Immediate Release
1 Jul 99
Chicago, IL - The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the nation's largest grassroots advocacy organization for persons with severe mental illnesses and their families, today unveiled model legislation at its national convention aimed at establishing "a baseline of care" in the nation's mental health system and replicating effective programs shown to be critical to recovery.
NAMI's "Omnibus Mental Illness Recovery Act (OMIRA)" comes less than a month after the White House Conference on Mental Health, which reflected much of NAMI's agenda at the federal level. Today, however, NAMI took aim squarely at state governments.
"The greatest tragedy of mental illness in this country is that we already have the knowledge to put things right," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn. "Individuals with biological brain disorders have a real chance to reclaim full, productive lives, but only if they have access to the treatments, services and programs that are vital to recovery."
NAMI's OMIRA legislation is designed for introduction in state legislatures either as a single package or as separate initiatives, depending on the circumstances in each state. Some states already may have enacted some sections that other states may need to replicate in whole or in part.
"President Bill Clinton recently demonstrated leadership on mental health issues at the federal level. We hope now that every governor and state legislator will do so as well," Flynn said. "We want every state to join in a broad, bipartisan effort to reform America's mental health system--a system in crisis--by building on the most effective standards and programs."
Flynn outlined the cost to society if mental illness recovery is not embraced as a common goal:
Under the current mental health system, Flynn also said, "treatment is too often denied. People end up dependent, destitute or dead."
Ironically, the success rate for treating severe mental illness-once access is secured-is relatively very high: 80 percent for bipolar disorder; 65 percent for major depression; and 60 percent for schizophrenia, compared to 45 percent for heart disease.
"Recovery won't come from action at just the federal level," Flynn said. "Every state and every community must do its part. That's what OMIRA is about, and that's the message everyone at NAMI's convention will be taking home with them."
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