Davis: Mental Illness Awareness Week (2004)

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Mental Illness Awareness Week  (2004) 
by Daniel K. Davis

Supporting National Library Week



Thursday, October 7, 2004

Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, October 3-9 is Mental Illness Awareness Week. During any one-year period, up to 50 million Americans--more than 22 percent--suffer from a clearly diagnosable mental disorder involving a degree of incapacity that interferes with employment, attendance at school or daily life. Like so many disorders, mental illness does not discriminate and affects every age, ethnic, and socioeconomic group.

During this week, there will be a more visible push in the communities to get the information out about mental illness. There will be booths set up and mental health fairs across our country as a way to reach out to more people. I commend the efforts of organizations and individuals who not only during this week but throughout the year work to help others identify and treat their mental illness.

Unfortunately, their hard work is somewhat stifled when there is not equal health care for mental illness or every person needing psychiatric care does not have access to a psychiatrist of their choice. With one in four adults suffering from a mental illness or substance use disorder in any year, it is likely that every family will feel this impact. Yet, most health plans discriminate by providing less care for mental illness, and by requiring patients and their families to pay more out-of-pocket costs.

Mr. Speaker, Congress needs to correct this disparity. Our constituents should not be penalized because they have a mental illness compared to a physical illness. We should ensure that the mental health system provide a more individualized and holistic approach to care without shame or inequity in coverage. Mental illness is like most physical illnesses; the patient is in need of treatment, support and rehabilitation.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).