- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2003


Treatment for millions of mentally ill Americans should go beyond medication to help them find jobs, make friends and otherwise live meaningful lives, a presidential commission recommends in a report that calls for a fundamental overhaul of the system.

In a report released yesterday, the commission recommends that people with mental illnesses and their families have a larger say in treatment, and says care plans should do more than just treat symptoms of disease.

It also recommends early screening so children with mental disorders can be diagnosed earlier. And it says innovative treatments and ideas must get into the field as soon as proved effective.

“The commission recommends fundamentally transforming how mental health care is delivered in America,” said the final report of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

“The time has long passed for yet another piecemeal approach to mental-health reform,” said commission Chairman Michael F. Hogan, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health. “This report provides the president with a road map for that transformation.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson called the report “thorough and thoughtful” and directed the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to review its recommendations. That agency’s head, Charles Curie, embraced the commission’s findings.

“Most of all, the report reminds us that mental illness is a treatable illness, and that recovery is possible,” Mr. Curie said in a statement.

About 5 percent to 7 percent of adults in the United States have a serious mental illness, the commission said.

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