Tuesday, November 7, 2017

APA, Responding to Trump on Shooting, Seeks Action on Mental Health

In response to remarks by President Donald Trump this week that the deadly shooting in a Texas church Sunday morning was “a mental health problem,” APA called on the administration and Congress to strengthen and improve access to quality mental health care.

“We are deeply saddened by the senseless violence in a house of worship this weekend,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., in a statement following the shooting in which 26 people were killed and more than 20 injured when a gunman opened fire at a Baptist church. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims, the families, and the community of this tragedy.”

He added that though the president and lawmakers have made comments associating acts of violence with mental illness, research has consistently shown that people with mental illness are not more likely to be perpetrators of violence, but more likely to be victims. In his statement, Levin requested that lawmakers not perpetuate stigma by making premature statements.

“If lawmakers believe it is a mental health issue, why are they not seeking to ensure that more resources are being put into treating those with mental health issues?” Levin asked.

Levin said that for policymakers who are sincere about addressing mental health, a first step is to protect “essential health benefits” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which include treatment for mental illness and substance use; those essential health benefits have been targeted in repeated Republican attempts to repeal or replace the ACA. 

“More designated funding should be appropriated to the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health to focus on new research to help increase new knowledge on how to prevent, treat, and cure mental illness and substance use disorders,” Levin added. “In addition, APA calls on the administration, the Congress, and state legislators to take needed steps to ensure that access to mental health programs remain intact so people with mental illness and substance use disorders are getting the care they need. The American Psychiatric Association stands ready to help you achieve that goal.”


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