THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
TIPPER GORE UNVEILS NEW INITIATIVES TO IMPROVE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT AND FAIRNESS FOR PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES
DARTMOUTH COLLEGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- On behalf of the Administration, Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Al Gore, announced today historic new initiatives to improve prevention and treatment, and eliminate stigma and discrimination for the tens of millions of Americans with mental illnesses. As Mental Health Policy Advisor to the President, she unveiled these new initiatives in an address before the Psychiatry Grand Rounds of Dartmouth College's Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, a facility renowned for its research into mental illness. The three major initiatives she unveiled included:
An unprecedented $70 million increase in the mental health services block grant, a 24 percent increase, totaling $358 million for FY2000, which will enable states to target particularly-hard-to-reach adults and children with severe mental illnesses, improve school violence abatement programs, help states provide new effective medications for people of mental illnesses, and provide services to older Americans who are reluctant to use mental health services in traditional mental health settings.
A White House Conference on Mental Health to be held this spring which will bring together mental health providers, consumers and state representatives, private sector entities, and foundations from around the nation to develop strategies to eliminate existing stigmas and encourage a healthy environment where people with mental illness can thrive; highlight promising practices to limit discrimination and improve prevention and treatment; and explore next steps public and private sectors can take to help people with mental illnesses.
A Presidential request to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to explore measures to eliminate the stricter standards currently applied to federal hiring practices for adults with psychiatric disabilities. Currently, there are excepted appointment authorities that are explicitly designed to encourage hiring individuals with disabilities by giving more hiring flexibility by exempting individuals from the competitive appointment process. Today, the President asked OPM to examine measures to eliminate the stricter standards currently applied to adults with psychiatric disabilities and extend them opportunities currently available to individuals with mental retardation and severe physical disabilities. He asked that they report back within 90 days on what measures can be taken to limit the stricter hiring practices.
In her remarks, Mrs. Gore commented: "Despite the many advances we have made in science, research, awareness and treatment, mental illness continues to be treated differently from physical illness, leading to more misunderstanding, greater stigma and discrimination, increased reluctance to seek help, and greater disparity in insurance coverage. I believe that our efforts will help bridge the gap that has formed between mental health and whole health and point the way to a greater understanding of how our families, friends and neighbors can truly live healthier, happier lives."