Peter Koutoujian today convened a policy roundtable with experts, practitioners, and community leaders to unveil his plan to improve access to mental health care and the quality of substance abuse treatment.
"In one year alone, four million Americans with serious mental health illnesses went untreated," said Koutoujian. "Every day substance abuse destroys lives in our most vulnerable populations--youths age 16 to 29 and the unemployed. These problems hurt individuals, shatter families, and turn communities upside down. We need to tackle them, and the proposals I announced today will start us down the right path.
"Fully implementing the Affordable Care Act will extend mental health services and parity protections to more than 62 million people. Providing more funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs will expand mental health services for the 100,000-plus veterans who sought help after serving in Afghanistan over the first six years of the conflict. Streamlining the grant-making process for prevention programs will proactively reduce substance abuse in our younger populations. Integrating substance abuse treatment and primary care will reduce the dramatic individual health effects that illicit drug use and heavy drinking cause," Koutoujian added.
The proposal kicked off a month-long plan for Koutoujian to highlight 5 priorities for the 5th district. He was joined by mental health care champion Howard Trachtman and Co-Founder of the National Alliance on Mental Illness -- Greater Boston Consumer Advocacy Network (NAMI -- GBCAN), as well as current and former practitioners in the field, and community leaders.
"There are significant barriers for people with mental health issues to receive the quality of care that they deserve" says Howard Trachtman, co-founder and director of NAMI GBCAN. "When Peter Koutoujian was my state representative he really understood that mental health matters and was very accessible for myself and others. I am glad that Peter is running to be my US Representative and cares so strongly about mental health."