President's New Freedom
Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America
July 22, 2003
Dear Mr. President:
On April 29, 2002, you announced the creation of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, and declared, "Our country must make a commitment. Americans with mental illness deserve our understanding and they deserve excellent care." You charged the Commission to study the mental health service delivery system, and to make recommendations that would enable adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbance to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. We have completed the task. Today, we submit our final report, Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America.
After a year of study, and after reviewing research and testimony, the Commission finds that recovery from mental illness is now a real possibility. The promise of the New Freedom Initiative-a life in the community for everyone-can be realized. Yet, for too many Americans with mental illnesses, the mental health services and supports they need remain fragmented, disconnected and often inadequate, frustrating the opportunity for recovery. Today's mental health care system is a patchwork relic-the result of disjointed reforms and policies. Instead of ready access to quality care, the system presents barriers that all too often add to the burden of mental illnesses for individuals, their families, and our communities.
The time has long passed for yet another piecemeal approach to mental health reform. Instead, the Commission recommends a fundamental transformation of the Nation's approach to mental health care. This transformation must ensure that mental health services and supports actively facilitate recovery, and build resilience to face life's challenges. Too often, today's system simply manages symptoms and accepts long-term disability. Building on the principles of the New Freedom Initiative, the recommendations we propose can improve the lives of millions of our fellow citizens now living with mental illnesses. The benefits will be felt across America in families, communities, schools, and workplaces.
The members of the Commission are gratified by your invitation to serve, are inspired by the innovative programs across America that we learned about, and are impressed by the readiness for change that we find in the mental health community. We look forward to the work ahead to make recovery from mental illness the expected outcome from a transformed system of care.
Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D.
Chairman, President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health
The Commission members:
Jane Adams, Ph.D.
Rodolfo Arrendondo, Jr., Ed.D.
Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W.
Daniel B. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.
Anil G. Godbole, M.D.
Henry T. Harbin, M.D.
Larke N. Huang, Ph.D.
Thomas R. Insel, M.D.
Norwood W. Knight-Richardson, M.D., M.B.A.
The Honorable Ginger Lerner-Wren
Stephen W. Mayberg, Ph.D.
Frances M. Murphy, M.D., M.P.H.
Robert H. Pasternak, Ph.D.
Robert N. Postlethwait, M.B.A.
Waltraud E. Prechter, B.A.Ed.
Dennis G. Smith
Chris Spear, B.A., M.P.A.
Nancy C. Speck, Ph.D.
The Honorable Randolph J. Townsend, M.Ed.
Deanna F. Yates, Ph.D.