January 16, 2013
Statement from HHS Secretary Sebelius on President’s Sandy Hook Response Plan
The Department of Health and Human Services will mobilize our medical and scientific expertise in support of the agenda announced today by the President to prevent tragedies like the one that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
We know that the vast majority of Americans with a mental illness are not violent, but we also know that more than 60 percent of people who experience mental illness do not receive treatment and that crisis situations can develop without proper treatment.
We have made historic advances in ensuring that mental illness is treated the same as any other illness through the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act. Because of the health care law, lack of insurance coverage will no longer be a barrier to treatment for tens of millions of Americans with mental illness. Yet we know that many obstacles to care remain, especially for our nation’s young people. To close these gaps, the President announced additional actions for HHS, such as training more mental health professionals and providing our schools and communities with the tools to help young people with mental illness.
HHS intends to join with private and public partners to launch a year-long national dialogue on youth and mental illness, engaging parents, peers, and teachers to reduce negative attitudes toward people with mental illness, to recognize the warning signs, and to enhance access to treatment.
HHS also has an important role in developing a better understanding of gun violence in order to reduce it in the future. We are committed to re-engaging gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. We are also offering guidance to health providers across the country, letting them know that they can talk to their patients about gun safety, and that there is no legal barrier to contacting law enforcement when patients make violent threats.
In the coming days, all of us, inside and outside government, must continue to ask what more we can do to build a healthier, safer America.