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Remarks by President Bush in announcing the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, April 2002








President George W. Bush announced the creation of The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque on April 29, 2002.  In his address, the President stated that “our country must make a commitment: Americans with mental illness deserve our understanding, and they deserve excellent care.”

President Bush identified obstacles to quality mental health care.  One such obstacle is the stigma that surrounds mental illness, “a stigma caused by a history of misunderstanding, fear and embarrassment.” 

“As many Americans know,” he said, “it is incredibly painful to watch someone you love struggle with an illness that affects their mind and their feelings and their relationships with others.” 

The President said, “Stigma leads to isolation, and discourages people from seeking the treatment they need. Political leaders, health care professionals, and all Americans must understand and send this message: Mental disability is not a scandal; it is an illness. And like physical illness, it is treatable, especially when the treatment comes early.”

President Bush identified another obstacle, the fragmented mental health service delivery system.  The President said that mental health centers and hospitals, homeless shelters, the justice and school systems have contact with individuals suffering from mental disorders but that too many Americans fall through the cracks of the current system.  The President said he created the Commission to ensure “that the cracks are closed.”

The President concluded by saying, “We must work for a welcoming and compassionate society, a society where no American is dismissed, and no American is forgotten.

“This is the great and hopeful story of our country, and we can write another chapter.  We must give all Americans who suffer from mental illness the treatment, and the respect, they deserve.”



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This page was last updated on April 30, 2003