APA Applauds White House Proposals

Wed January 16, 2013

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Statement from APA President Dilip V. Jeste, M.D.:

On behalf of the leadership of the American Psychiatric Association and myself, I applaud the proposals set forth by President Barack Obama today aimed at reducing gun violence and preventing future horrific events such as the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last month. In particular, several proposals address the need to improve access to quality mental health care.

We are heartened that the Administration plans to finalize rules governing mental health parity under the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, the Affordable Care Act, and Medicaid. We strongly urge the Administration to close loopholes involving so-called ‘non-quantitative treatment limits’ and to ensure that health plans deliver a full scope of mental health services in order to comply with the law. Such action will best ensure that Americans get the full range of mental health services we believe they are intended to receive under federal law.

A new initiative outlined by the President would provide training for school personnel and help ensure that young people who need help are referred to treatment. This is in line with an effective school outreach program developed by the American Psychiatric Foundation, an arm of the APA, which is aimed at improving early identification of young people with mental health problems. Called Typical or Troubled?, the program works with school systems throughout the country to help identify warning signs of mental health problems in teens and teach educators how to respond to them. The Administration has also proposed funding for state efforts to support young adults with mental health issues, to support school-based violence prevention efforts, and to train 5,000 additional mental health professionals serving students and young adults. We strongly support these important steps.

We are glad that the President has clarified that doctors are not prohibited from asking their patients about guns in their homes. The APA has consistently advocated for such a position. The APA also applauds President Obama’s plan to expand research on the causes and prevention of gun violence and how and when firearms are used in violent death, including suicide.

As the medical specialty representing more than 33,000 psychiatric physicians, APA intends to play an active role during Congressional discussions about the President’s proposed policies, particularly as they impact access to psychiatric treatment. The APA is ready to work with the Administration and the Congress to improve access to, and quality of, mental health services and public safety and to participate in the national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society representing more than 35,000 physician members specializing in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses including substance use disorders. Visit the APA at www.psychiatry.org.

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