NCD Letter to President Obama Regarding Mental Health Funding

December 20, 2013

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD), we express our appreciation for the Administration’s recent pledge of $100 million dollars to strengthen mental health services in America. This comes while the efforts of the 113th Congress to advance federal mental health legislation have yet to be successful.  The December 10, 2013 pledge announced by Vice President Joseph Biden was timely—just four days before the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School incident and it aptly reinforced the importance of providing effective support for the individual with a disability and their families in the disability and veterans’ communities.

It is good to see mental health funds going into the community and high need areas.  Your pledge of funding demonstrates a readiness to increase access to mental health services and improve mental health facilities as part of the Administration’s ongoing commitment to help improve the lives of individuals experiencing mental health needs. As guidelines are established for this funding to strengthen mental health services for people in the disability and veterans’ communities, NCD urges consideration to ensure that the funds are used to offer a spectrum of strategies across the lifespan, including peer-to-peer supports[1] which are being added to clinical services[2] across the country.

NCD’s January 11, 2013 letter to Vice President Biden affirmed backing of efforts to improve the quality, availability and affordability of mental health services and supports. A core recommendation was to “develop a framework to invest in community-based mental health supports and programs. Existing federal research reveals a profound shortage of community-based services, including mobile crisis services and peer supports. . . Unfortunately, the severe deficiency in current resources means that these services are often available only to people who are in immediate crisis and who have already endured multiple hospitalizations. Recently, pilot programs have been developed across the country to better meet the needs of people when they have their first psychotic episode. NCD encourages the [advancement of] policy recommendations in line with these models and the principles undergirding them.”[3]

Thank you for valuing the critical importance of providing funds for mental health support and services for the disability and veterans’ communities. We stand ready and look forward to working with you and leaders of Congress to best meet the health, safety and security needs of the American public, including Americans with psychiatric disabilities.

Respectfully,

Stephanie Orlando
Member, National Council on Disability

cc:       Vice President Joe Biden



[1]  Inclusive Livable Communities for People with Psychiatric Disabilities http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2008/03172008

[2] ACT and Recovery: Integrating Evidence-Based Practice and Recovery Orientation on Assertive Community Treatment Teams http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10597-007-9088-5

[3]  Letter to Vice President Biden Regarding Anticipated Taskforce Recommendations http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2013/Jan142013/

National Council on Disability • 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 850 • Washington, DC 20004