Washington, DC—On June 3, 2013, Active Minds participated in the historic National Conference on Mental Health hosted by President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House. The conference was part of the Administration’s bold effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding about mental health and bring these issues out of the shadows. The conference was streamed in real-time from www.whitehouse.gov.
Janelle Montaño, Public Speaker with the Active Minds Speaker Bureau was asked to introduce President Obama as the only young person speaking about her own mental health struggles. Janelle shared her story about family suicide, major depression, recovery and hope. Following the introduction, she participated in a panel discussion moderated by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The panel focused on how addressing negative attitudes about mental illness is essential to making sure more people seek help; what we know about why these attitudes exist and the misperceptions in which they are grounded; and what we can do to break down the barriers preventing too many people from seeking the help they need.
“This was a momentous day for Active Minds,” said Alison Malmon, Executive Director of Active Minds. “We were the only organization to have a young person speak, the only organization to have a representative speak about his/her own mental health struggles, and the organization to introduce President Obama. We are honored to have played a role in bringing national attention to an issue that affects every family in every corner of this country. We are honored to represent the next generation that will truly bring these issues to light.”
Also invited and representing Active Minds at the conference were Alison Malmon; and Senior Program Manager of the Speakers Bureau, Nupur Kanodia.
The conference was the first White House Conference on Mental Health since 1999, and is part of the Administration’s larger efforts to address mental health. Other examples of these efforts include:
- Expanding Mental Health Coverage. The Affordable Care Act will expand mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections for 62 million Americans. In addition, thanks to the health care law, beginning in 2014, insurers will no longer be able to deny anyone coverage because of a pre-existing mental health condition. The law already ensures that new health plans cover recommended preventive benefits without cost sharing, including depression screening for adults and adolescents and behavioral assessments for children.
- Supporting Young People. The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget includes a new $130 million initiative to help teachers and other adults recognize signs of mental illness in students and refer them to help if needed, support innovative state-based programs to improve mental health outcomes for young people ages 16-to-25, and help train 5,000 additional mental health professionals with a focus on serving students and young adults.
- Improving Access to Services for Veterans. In response to the President’s Executive Order in August of 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs has achieved their goal of increasing capacity by hiring 1,600 new mental health providers, over 300 peer-to-peer veteran specialists, establishing 24 pilot projects in nine states where VA is partnering with community mental health providers to help Veterans access mental health services in a timely way and enhancing the capacity of its Crisis Line by 50 percent.
About Active Minds, Inc.
Active Minds is the young adult voice in mental health advocacy. By supporting a rapidly growing network of hundreds of student-led chapters at colleges and universities, Active Minds empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. Active Minds is a national nonprofit headquartered in Washington D.C. Follow us on Twitter @Active_Minds. For more information visit: www.ActiveMinds.org.