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ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 17, 2012 — Last night, the presidential debates finally talked about mental illness, but in the same breath as criminals and guns.
Never mind that one in four American adults experience a mental health problem in any given year, that less than one-third get treatment, and that the U.S. Surgeon General determined over a decade ago that "the overall contribution of mental disorders to the total level of violence in society is exceptionally small."
People living with mental illness are 10 times more likely to be victims of violence as the general population.
"President Obama and Governor Romney missed a chance to address root causes of the real issue. The problem is the crippling neglect of mental health care in our country," said Michael J. Fitzpatrick , executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
"When violence occurs, it is usually a sign that something has gone terribly wrong in the mental health care system. The solution is not to stigmatize the vast majority of people who live with mental illness."
"America's mental health crisis has been made worse by state budget cuts in mental healthcare. Presidential leadership is important. Turning the mental health care system around is going to require commitments from Congress, governors and state legislators—every candidate at all levels."
NAMI is the sponsor of the non-partisan "Mental Health Care Gets My Vote" campaign, which advocates the following priorities:
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.