APA Submits Testimony to Congress on the State of America's Mental Health System

Mon January 28, 2013

(Arlington, VA) - On January 24, 2013, James H. Scully, Jr., M.D., Medical Director And CEO, submitted testimony on behalf of the American Psychiatric Association to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions regarding the committee’s hearing: “Assessing the State of America’s Mental Health System.”

Dr. Scully said, “This hearing comes at a critical time when our leaders in government are faced with difficult choices about where to allocate limited resources. Nevertheless, I believe the current state of our nation’s mental health system is weak, and demands immediate and significant attention by Congress and the Administration.” Dr. Scully suggested five key issue areas through which the mental health system could be strengthened to ensure the mental health and well-being of all Americans.

Mental Health Parity―APA urges issuance of a final rule on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). In the absence of a final rule, APA is concerned that access to critical mental health services will be jeopardized for millions of Americans. APA supports reintroduction of the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act, which would increase access for the most seriously ill.

Commission on Mental Health―APA supports the idea of a new commission – either Presidential or Congressional – to conceptualize how our nation’s mental health system can meet the needs of all Americans in the twenty-first century.

Investing in Existing Mental Health System Components―APA supports investment in biomedical research, ongoing initiatives to develop and implement new treatments for addiction, and state block grants for mental health and substance use activities, suicide prevention, and jail diversion programs for people with mental illness.

The Mental Health Workforce―The ability of our nation’s mental health system to deliver high-quality care in a coordinated and cost-effective fashion is dependent upon an appropriately trained workforce. As a physician specialty society, APA strongly supports the preservation of both Direct Graduate Medical Education (DGME) and Indirect Graduate Medical Education (IGME), which support 16,000 residencies each year.

Early Intervention and Prevention Services for Youth―As a vulnerable population, children and adolescents are especially in need of early intervention and prevention services

and APA strongly supports efforts to train school personnel in identifying potential early warning signs of violent behavior in children and adolescents.

Dr. Scully brought to the Committee’s attention an initiative APA launched through the American Psychiatric Foundation, called Typical or Troubled?™, to train school personnel to make the distinction between students who are “just being adolescents” and students who demonstrate early signs of mental illness. This program represents the type of early intervention and prevention strategy that could serve as a national model.

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders.

Join APA