Statement by Luis B. Perez, President & CEO, Mental Health Connecticut
As President Obama said today, “regardless of which side you were on in the election, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, the sun would come up in the morning.” He also reminded us that we are all on one team and we all want what’s best.
Mental Health Connecticut couldn’t agree more. Now is a time for unity, inclusion, and respect for each other. As we move into 2017, we promise to uphold these values. We will continue to collaborate with state and national supporters of mental health reform, to advocate for the rights of individuals, and to shed light on the challenges in health and wellbeing that so many of our friends and neighbors experience every day.
Today, Mental Health America shared some reminders of our biggest challenges as a nation. Tens of millions of U.S. residents face mental health concerns at any given time. Half of us will be diagnosed with a mental illness during our lifetime. Mental illnesses are as costly as cancers, and serious mental illnesses reduce life expectancy by more than twenty-five years. 57 percent of adults with mental illnesses say that they do not have access to mental health care.
We congratulate all incoming Connecticut legislators on their victories and their willingness to take on the increasingly challenging role of being in public office and serving the people of our small but mighty state. In the upcoming legislative session, we will continue to invite bi-partisan efforts to improve and sustain good, sound mental health policy and be a resource for state and local legislators on the importance of community-based care and the prevalence of stigma and discrimination that often arise in proposed legislation.
We will continue to advocate at a national level, including working with Mental Health America, who has worked so hard to collaborate with both parties to bring mental health reform to the finish line. We hope to see members of this Congress carry these bills across the finish line before the year ends. This stage of reform is not the end of our challenges in health care advancement. But this step is vital to realizing progress for our nation’s future.
Moving our system of care forward as healthcare reform continues to evolve, and elevating what makes for good health and mental health care policy, will be a top priority for Mental Health Connecticut in 2017. We believe in the work that lives beyond ourselves, the work that goes beyond our differences and unifies our communities around what is best for the health and wellbeing of us all.