Recieved via email 7.16.2016, in response to an online letter I had written to the President and First Lady, advocating for Mental Health Awareness, reform, education, reducing stigma, and more. I was beyond honored to receive a reply, and have written them again today, thanking him for his support of the 21st Century Cares Act, which does make some steps toward the diversity of work that needs to be done in mental health. I also wrote about this project. We’ve just started, and they are just changing chapters. With no political voice intended, and sincerely just as a fellow human and fellow citizen, In tribute to every positive thing accomplished and achieved during the work of the First Family these last eight years, I just share this, with respect…
The White House, Washington
Thank you for sharing your story. I have heard from many Americans whose lives have been affected by mental health problems, and I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts.
As you may be aware, in any given year one in five adults experiences a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or post-traumatic stress, and many others are troubled by significant emotional and psychological distress—especially in times of hardship or difficulty. They are our family members, friends, and neighbors, and I believe there are things we must all do to help. As a Nation, we can strive to eliminate the barriers that still keep people from accessing life-changing treatments. We can also make sure every person struggling with psychological and emotional pain knows that asking for help is not a sign of weakness—taking action is a sign of strength.
My Administration has worked hard to help increase mental health services and improve access to care. We are working with community health centers to expand the availability of behavioral and mental health services across the country, including in rural areas. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, over 60 million Americans now have expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections. This law also prohibits insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions like a diagnosis of mental illness, and it requires most insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services without copays. Additionally, as part of the BRAIN initiative, we are supporting innovative research that aims to revolutionize our understanding of how the brain works and uncover new ways to address conditions like depression.
We continue to support our troops and veterans. I signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act on February 12, 2015, which authorized additional steps to address mental health and prevent suicide. The year before, I announced 19 Executive actions that make it easier for members of our Armed Forces and veterans to access the care they need, when they need it—including a new policy that will ensure the continuity of medication for mental health problems as service members transition to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has also worked to increase mental health staffing, enhance community partnerships, and expand the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line.
To learn more about mental health assistance and health care reform, please visit http://www.MentalHealth.gov or http://www.HealthCare.gov. Calling 1-800-662-HELP is also a free, confidential way to receive a treatment referral or further information.
Again, thank you for writing. Michelle and I—like so many Americans—have known people who have experienced mental health problems, and we understand the effects these illnesses have on their lives and on their families. We must continue to work toward better prevention and treatment, and as caring individuals, we must do what we can to ensure those with mental health issues get the care and support they need and deserve.
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