Sebelius: Bring Mental Illness out of the Shadows

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Fifty years ago Tuesday, President John Kennedy shattered the national silence when he delivered a message to Congress in which he called for a bold new community-based approach to mental illness that emphasized prevention, treatment, education and recovery.

In the half century since, we’ve made tremendous progress as a country when it comes to attitudes about mental health. But recent events have reminded us that we still have a long way to go to bring mental health fully out of the shadows.

The vast majority of Americans with a mental health condition are not violent. In fact, just 3% to 5% of violent crimes are committed by individuals who suffer from a serious mental illness.

But we know that some instances of mental illness can develop into crisis situations if left untreated, and those crises can lead to violence. More often than not, those with mental health conditions direct these violent acts at themselves. Tragically, there are more than 38,000 suicides in America each year, more than twice the number of homicides.

by Kathleen Sebelius, USA Today

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