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December 14, 2017
Contact: HHS Press Office
[email protected]

Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee Releases its First Report to Congress

People in the United States who experience serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbances need greater access to quality, affordable health care, according to a report released by the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC).

The report, The Way Forward: Federal Action for a System That Works for All People Living with SMI and SED and Their Families and Caregivers, was delivered to Congress on Wednesday, December 13. This first report from the ISMICC provides a roadmap for improving mental health services for adults living with serious mental illness and children and youth who experience serious emotional disturbances. The report contains five focus areas for the federal government and the mental health care system:

  1. Strengthen federal coordination to improve care
  2. Make it easier to get care that is an evidence-based best practice
  3. Close the gap between what works and what is offered
  4. Increase opportunities for individuals with serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance to be diverted from the criminal and juvenile justice systems and to improve care for those involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems
  5. Develop finance strategies to increase availability and affordability of care

In 2016, more than 10 million adults in the U.S. were living with a serious mental illness. More than 7 million children and youth experienced a serious emotional disturbance. They faced a greater risk of suicide and life expectancy 10 years shorter than the general population.

The Report details other consequences of inadequate mental health care, including two million people with serious mental illness who are incarcerated each year.

“Better addressing the challenge of serious mental illness is one of the top three clinical priorities for the Department of Health and Human Services, and a priority for the Trump Administration,” said Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric D. Hargan. “We look forward to continuing to lead and work with the ISMICC to understand how we can improve our policies and practices in this area.”

“It is crucial to provide access to evidence-based mental health care before people experience negative outcomes,” said Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “Our health care system can do better, and the federal government can marshal its resources to help make that happen.”  Dr. McCance-Katz chairs the ISMICC in addition to heading the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Acting Secretary Hargan, Dr. McCance-Katz and other members of the ISMICC will discuss the recommendations in their first report to Congress at a press conference and public meeting today in Washington. More information on the ISMICC and today’s events is available at www.samhsa.gov/ismicc.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: December 14, 2017

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