Vice President Biden Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Wednesday evening as part of The Kennedy Forum’s event commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act.

The Vice President was there to reaffirm the Administration’s commitment to increasing access to mental health and substance abuse treatments, eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness, and supporting research to better understand the functioning of the human brain.

He highlighted a recent proposal by the Obama Administration to dedicate $100 million to jump start an initiative to map the human brain.

“It’s truly amazing what we don’t know, and it’s even more astounding what we might learn.”

The Vice President also stressed the need for continuing a national effort to eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness:

“There are treatments and therapies available to help those suffering from mental illness and substance abuse that go unused. Too many people in this country still suffer silently. Too many mental health problems, for which there are treatments, are left untreated.”

Eliminating stigma was a key focus at the National Conference on Mental Health, held at the White House on June 3, 2013.

Finally, the Vice President highlighted the upcoming expansion of mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections for 62 million Americans, resulting from the Affordable Care Act.

“We made sure that the Affordable Care Act includes mental health and substance abuse services as one of the 10 categories of essential benefits that must be covered by health plans in the new health insurance marketplaces.”

The Administration will issue the final rule implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 by the end of this year.

Stefanie Feldman is the Assistant Director for Policy in the Office of the Vice President
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