Congresswoman Matsui Statement on Mental Health Provisions in President Obama's Gun Violence Executive Action
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Congresswoman Matsui Statement on Mental Health Provisions in President Obama’s Gun Violence Executive Action
Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s executive actions designed to reduce gun violence:
“As a nation, we mourn together in the wake of senseless acts of gun violence. It is past time that, as a nation, we take action together to prevent gun violence from taking the life of yet another innocent victim,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “I applaud the President’s efforts to respond to the gun violence epidemic in our country with common sense reforms that strengthen background checks and increase gun safety research, without infringing on any law-abiding individual’s right to own firearms.
“The President’s call for increased funding for mental health services as part of his plan points to a larger need for mental health reform in this country. There is no question that our nation's mental health system is broken, which is why I have spent much of my career in Congress working to improve gaps in the system and increase access to behavioral health services in a way that parallels what is available for physical illnesses.
“As we discuss mental illness in the context of gun violence, we must be extremely cautious not to perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental health in our country. One in four Americans experience some form of mental illness, and individuals with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Propagating stigma prevents these people from seeking the treatment and community support that they need to recover.
“We have been making strides toward mental health parity in this country, and I believe an era of openness and access to treatment at the first sign of trouble is possible. Yet, we need mental health reform that deals with the entire spectrum of care, and builds a foundation for a time when, if a young person starts to hear voices, he or she can reach out for help and services rather than remain in isolation. If we are to push our family members, our friends, and our children who suffer from mental illnesses back into the shadows, we will not be able to properly diagnose and treat them, or identify diseases early and intervene before they progress to a crisis stage.
“As we work to streamline gun laws and enforcement, while also bolstering our nation’s mental health system, we must do so with the knowledge that millions of Americans suffer from mental illnesses each year, and that the vast majority of them will never commit an act of violence against others. For it is with this knowledge, along with comprehensive mental health reform, that we will bring our loved ones out of the shadows and towards the positive outcomes that they and their families need and deserve.”