On October 12, 2013, ACA participated in a Creating Community Solutions discussion on mental health. Convened by Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, the town hall event was part of a national dialogue to promote solutions to the challenges faced by those with mental health issues. Over 400 participants – students, family members, concerned residents and service providers – joined together at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. to discuss critical issues on complex challenges relating to mental health issues and services.
Presenters included Mayor Gray, Steven Brigham, the President of American Speaks; Dr. Joseph Wright from the Washington DC Children’s Medical Center; Councilwoman Yvette Alexander, the Chair of the Washington DC committee on Health; Stephen Baron from the Washington DC Department of Behavioral Health; and Dr. Dr. Paramjit Joshi from the George Washington University School of Medicine. The focus was on highlighting the importance of mental health, key challenges for mental health, supporting the mental health of our youth and young adults, and action planning for solutions.
Participants focused on the need to reach those in need as early as possible and to fight stigma; particularly the misconception that those with mental health issues are violent. The importance of bullying prevention was also addressed. Some key statistics presented included:
- 1 in 5 in the United States experience a mental health problem every year but only 40% of these individuals receive services.
- Only 3%-5% of violent acts are committed by people with mental illness. However, 24% of Americans believe that people with mental illness are dangerous and 39% believe that they are unpredictable. Individuals with mental health problems are more likely to be victims than perpetrators.
- Only 44% of Americans believe those with mental health problems can be successful in the workplace. However, studies show no difference in productivity.
- Only 30% believe a person with mental illness issues can recover when, in fact, mental illness is eminently treatable.
- Because of stigma, cultural issues, and language barriers, up to 50% of those with mental health issues do not seek treatment.
ACA’s input focused on the need for early assessment in schools through the funding of school counselors and the need to fund professional counselors in mental health settings to address the chronic under treatment of those with mental health issues.
To view the final report on the D.C. event; PowerPoint slides; and outcomes, please visit: http://creatingcommunitysolutions.org/event/creating-community-solutions-dc
For additional information on the Creating Community Solutions national dialogue on mental health, please contact David Kaplan, ACA Chief Professional Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.