Nationally, an estimated 45 million Americans suffer from illnesses like
depression, schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress syndrome.
And today, the White House hosted a day-long conference with health care
experts, psychologists, faith leaders, advocates for veterans, and a
host of administration officials to kick off a national conversation
about mental health in the United States.
"We all know somebody -- a family member, a friend, a neighbor -- who
has struggled or will struggle with mental health issues at some point
in their lives," President Obama said as he opened the gathering.
The conference focused on ways we can all worth together to reduce
stigma and help the millions of Americans struggling with mental health
problems recognize the importance of reaching out for assistance, as
President Obama explained:
We know that recovery is possible, we know help is available, and yet,
as a society, we often think about mental health differently than other
forms of health. You see commercials on TV about a whole array of
physical health issues, some of them very personal. And yet, we whisper
about mental health issues and avoid asking too many questions.
The brain is a body part too; we just know less about it. And there
should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses
that affect too many people that we love. We've got to get rid of that
embarrassment; we've got to get rid of that stigma.
many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still
suffering in silence rather than seeking help, and we need to see it
that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they
had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same
attitude when it comes to their mental health.
Today’s conference is just one part of the Obama administration’s effort
to raise awareness and improve care for Americans experiencing mental
health issues. The Affordable Care Act is expanding mental health
coverage for millions of Americans, we're working to improve access to
mental health services for veterans, and we're supporting initiatives to
help educators recognize and refer students who show signs of mental
"For many people who suffer from a mental illness, recovery can be
challenging," President Obama said. "But what helps more than anything,
what gives so many of our friends and loved ones strength, is the
knowledge that you are not alone. You’re not alone. You’re surrounded by
people who care about you and who will support you on the journey to get
well. We're here for you."