Foundation Represented at White House National Conference on Mental Health

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Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D. President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in Washington D.C. at the White House
Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D.

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation was a participant at the White House for yesterday’s historic convening of a National Conference on Mental Health. Foundation President Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D. was among the guests of hosts President Obama and Vice President Biden for a national conversation about reducing stigma, increasing access to treatment and care and promoting recovery from mental illness.

After the conference, Dr. Borenstein commented:  “The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation commends the President and Vice President for facilitating this meaningful national dialog. They have heard and answered the call for conversation and collaboration to help the millions of people living with mental illness, often suffering in silence. This open dialog and focused effort to reduce stigma, increase access to care and accelerate brain and mental health research offers a real path to recovery from these illnesses.”

President Obama opened the conference to a room full of mental health advocates from leading nonprofit organizations, political leaders, governmental figures and those personally affected by mental illness. He stated that: “There should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love...recovery is possible. They are not alone. There is hope. There is possibility.” He set the stage for the day with these compelling statistics: tens of millions of people in the U.S. experience mental illness (1 in 5 adults annually and similar rates in youth), less than 40% receive treatment, 75% of mental illnesses emerge by age 24 and about 50% of affected children receive treatment. “We wouldn’t accept that if only half of people with cancer or diabetes got help.”

“The brain is a body part too. We just know less about it.” The President reiterated the need for investment in science and his ambitious B.R.A.I.N. initiative that seeks to map the functioning of the human brain and “unlock its mysteries.” He called for Americans to “do everything we can to help our fellow Americans to heal and thrive.”

Vice President Biden said that it is time to stop differentiating between physical and mental health and that those who “successfully sought help" are great advocates. Military and youth are “two groups with greatest challenges to accessing mental health treatment," he said. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called for a “change of hearts and minds” and greater understanding to reduce stigma because “recovery is very real.”

Dr. Borenstein had the opportunity to share the mission of the Foundation with advocates / celebrities in attendance, including Bradley Cooper, Glenn Close and former Senator and current President of the National Association of Broadcasters Gordon H. Smith. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki led panel discussions.

On hand from the Foundation Scientific Council was Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman. After the events at the White House, Drs. Borenstein and Lieberman were among those featured at the National Press Club briefing.

As new initiatives unfold from yesterday’s dialog, the Foundation will carry the message that supporting scientific discovery leads to improved treatments and the possibility of recovery. The website, http://www.mentalhealth.gov, billed as a “one stop shop” for mental health and a showcase for recovery stories was among the initiatives rolled out at the conference.

Dr. Borenstein with
Bradley Cooper
Dr. Borenstein with
Glenn Close
Dr. Borenstein with
Hon. Gordon H. Smith
Scientific Council Member
Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman



National Press Club Briefing

 

Article comments

Let's hope that this open discussion by our country's leaders will actually vastly reduce the stigma of being a person with a mental illness. It would make a gigantic difference to the person and to the person's family.

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