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Stamford, Conn. – July 12, 2016 – AmeriCares and the National Council for Behavioral Health have partnered to expand access to care for millions of low-income patients living with mental illness.
Through the partnership, the National Council will raise awareness of AmeriCares new Mental Health Initiative among its 2,500 member organizations serving 10 million children, adults and families living with mental illness and addiction disorders. The National Council will also research the types of medication and behavioral health services most needed by low-income and uninsured patients to inform the growth of the Mental Health Initiative.
“We are thrilled to offer our resources and expertise to help AmeriCares provide free medication and medical supplies to behavioral health centers, many of which are National Council members and their low-income patients,” said National Council President and CEO Linda Rosenberg. “This partnership will help many individuals living with mental illness.”
Announced as a Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in September 2015, AmeriCares Mental Health Initiative has since supplied $20 million in psychiatric and primary care medicines to behavioral health care providers serving low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients in 18 states. The medications, donated by pharmaceutical companies, include prescription medications to treat depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, among other disorders. The program reduces costs for safety net providers and their patients, improves quality of care and expands treatment options.
In any given year, 43 million people in the U.S. experience mental illness and nearly 10 million people have a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults with serious psychological distress, including mental illness, are more likely to be uninsured and have other health problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and diabetes.
“Even in the wealthiest countries, about half the people diagnosed with mental illness go without treatment. Ignoring this disease can have devastating consequences. Depression alone is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide,” said AmeriCares President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis. “By expanding access to medicines we are improving health and contributing to stronger, more vibrant communities.”
AmeriCares plans to support at least 175 behavioral health safety net providers over the next three years with at least $40 million worth of high-quality psychiatric medicine. The Mental Health Initiative is an extension of AmeriCares U.S. Program, which supports more than 800 free clinics and community health centers nationwide with free medicine, medical supplies and capacity-building programs. The partnership between the National Council and AmeriCares will help ensure the continued success of the Mental Health Initiative resulting in more low-income Americans living with mental illness getting access to the services and treatments they need.