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Statement of Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America, on

Congressional Efforts to Develop Consensus Mental Health Legislation


Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588, (202) 744-6341 or


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (June 25, 2014)—Statement of Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America:

We applaud the efforts of Representatives Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) to develop consensus legislation that would advance the mental health needs of our nation.

We hope their talks will continue and produce an agreement. It would be an important first step in creating the kind of community-based system of care that was envisioned fifty years ago with the passage of the Community Mental Health Centers Act, which ended the warehousing of people in institutions and recognized the importance and effectiveness of serving people within their communities.

Such a system would not only guarantee treatment for those at the latest stages of serious mental illnesses, but also devote attention and resources to early detection and intervention, inclusion versus isolation, the choice of treatments and supports instead of incarceration, and recovery, not disease maintenance, as a goal.

Because mental health conditions and mental illnesses are also most frequently conditions of childhood, such a system would also focus on assuring that all of our children are well cared-for, so that they can remain in, and succeed at, school, and have every opportunity to lead successful, independent lives as adults.

Mental Health America believes that any mental health policy must be directed toward the goals of prevention, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated treatment for those who need it, and recovery.  We believe that our position represents a consensus view.

In recent days, I have met with both Representatives Barber and Murphy and am impressed with their commitment to promote the well-being of people who, through no fault of their own and simply because they have conditions that affect their brain, end up homeless, at the mercy of the criminal justice system, or worse.

If they are able to bridge differences and reach consensus, it would be a major step forward. We support such an effort, which could start us along the path to more comprehensive mental health reforms that could help reverse the effects of a generation of neglect.

Mental Health America (, founded in 1909, is the nation’s leading community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our 228 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.