President Obama Elevates Mental Health Issues to National Stage

AFSP Joins White House Effort to Increase Mental Health Awareness


President Obama Elevates Mental Health Issues to National Stage

On Monday, President Obama and Vice President Biden hosted a conference as part of the Administration’s effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness of mental health.

At the conference, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the launch of a new website,, aimed at providing resources for those suffering from mental illness and sharing stories from those who’ve received treatment. She also promised a final rule on mental health parity, which would qualify 60 million more Americans for mental health services under the Affordable Health Care Act.

In conjunction, the National Association of Broadcasters will launch an ad campaign starting in July to educate the public about the warning signs of depression and other mental illnesses, and how to get help, and the president has requested that 151 health centers run by the Department of Veterans Affairs hold mental health summits between July 1 and Sept. 15.

“We applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden in making suicide prevention a central part of the national conversation about mental health,” said AFSP John Madigan, AFSP’s chief public policy officer, who was invited to attend this unprecedented White House meeting.

AFSP joined 200 representatives from the not-for-profit health sector, government and business, along with mental health advocates, educators, health care providers, faith leaders, and individuals who have struggled with mental illness, to discuss ways to reduce stigma and help the millions of Americans struggling with mental health problems recognize the importance of reaching out for assistance.

President Obama delivered opening remarks and Vice President Biden delivered closing remarks to conference participants. Secretary Sebelius moderated a panel on addressing negative attitudes about mental illness and Education Secretary Arne Duncan moderated a session titled, “Ignite: Unlocking Innovative Campaigns,” featuring a series of short presentations by organizations that have been successful in using creative ideas to promote their missions. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and actor Bradley Cooper also spoke in the concluding session along with Vice President Biden.


To read more about the conference, please visit