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Promotion of Good Mental Health

WHEREAS, with good mental health, a person will feel in control of their emotions, will have good cognitive functioning, and will have positive interactions with people around them. This state allows a person to perform well at work, in their studies, and in family and other social relationships, allowing them the ability to make a contribution to his or her community; and 

WHEREAS, mental health problems are more common than heart disease, lung disease and cancer combined, and in some way shape and form, affect all of society; and 

WHEREAS, it is estimated that one in five Americans will experience a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year, such as depression, anxiety, substance use, trauma, eating disorders, psychosis, and deliberate self-injury. Others will experience distress or face a mental challenge that may require support and assistance, but not medical intervention; and 

WHEREAS, many mental health disorders are effectively treated in a professional setting, access to mental health care is a significant issue, especially for those without insurance or who are not able to take advantage of the limited public funds that, in most states, are prioritized for those with serious mental illness, leaving out those who can benefit from behavioral health services; and 

WHEREAS, co-morbidity, or a mental health condition along with another medical condition, is also a problem. The co-existence of mental illness and substance abuse is common. For example, it is common for those with mental illness to "self-medicate" with alcohol or other drugs. The seriousness of other co-morbidity examples such as substance abuse and diabetes, or depression and hypertension, are often forgotten, along with the impact one condition and its treatment can have on the other health issue. Therefore, it is imperative that for whatever type of condition a person seeks help, clinicians must assess the need for medical, mental health, and substance abuse services. It is even more desirable that the ability to treat all of these conditions be seamless, preferably co-located; and 

WHEREAS, the release of ex-offenders from correctional institutions has increased the need for behavioral health services. It has been well-documented that many of those who find themselves incarcerated suffer from untreated or undiagnosed mental health issues. Many ex-offenders require substance abuse services upon their re-entry, to deal with addiction problems that were only  "interrupted" by their incarceration, not cured. The same conditions leading to the prior abuse very likely continue after release from incarceration; and 

WHEREAS, stigma, a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the public to fear, reject, avoid and discriminate against people with mental illness, is another barrier to many individuals in distress to accept offers of help and/or to avoid seeking help because of the widespread stigma surrounding mental health. Stigma assumes many subtle and overt forms that can affect all areas of a person's life. Stigma may also prevent individuals from acknowledging they need help, may affect access to care and the quality of such care and may result in the person internalizing negative attitudes about themselves. It has been said that, "fighting the shame and stigma of mental illness is more difficult than battling the illness itself"; and 

WHEREAS, experience and research show that individuals living with mental disorders and mental health problems can lead full lives and be contributing members of society, can recover being able to live, work, learn, and participate in their communities; and 

WHEREAS, with increased awareness of the need for mental health services comes greater identification of those who can benefit from such services, and ultimately increased need. Federally Qualified Health Centers and other urban providers are confronted by these realities each day; and 

WHEREAS, in the Affordable Care Act, it is fortunate that mental health care is as important as physical health care. The increased need for services is somewhat addressed by states that have expanded Medicaid rolls in keeping with the Affordable Care Act. For others, increased awareness is simply drawing more attention to the lack of much needed services; and 

WHEREAS, Mental Health First Aid is an outstanding program for teaching the general public to recognize the need for mental health services, and proper understanding and response to those who may have behavioral health problems and/or mental health crisis. It is appropriate for youth and adults — anyone who has an interest in learning how to respond with compassion and the ability to de- escalate potentially volatile situations. 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP continue to strongly advocate through legislation for Medicaid expansion in the 22 states currently without and maintain expansion in the 28 states and the District of Columbia that currently have it; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NAACP units participate in training such as Mental Health First Aid (USA) that teaches the general public how to recognize symptoms of mental health problems, how to offer and provide initial help, and how to guide a person toward appropriate treatments and other supportive help; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP engage in an ongoing approach to and remain staunch advocates for increased culturally competent mental illness awareness and recovery for persons within the communities that we serve. 

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