President Obama on Monday called for a more open dialogue on the issue of mental illness, which he said is poorly understood and under-treated because of the stigma it carries.
“We wouldn’t accept it if only 40 percent of Americans with cancer got treatment,” he said. “We wouldn’t accept it if only half of the young people with diabetes got help. Why should we accept it when it comes to mental health?”
His remarks opened what the White House has dubbed a National Conference on Mental Health, a gathering of advocates, elected officials, faith leaders and others aimed at increasing awareness of mental illness and highlighting ways that the mentally ill can seek help.
The event comes more than a month after a package of mental health reforms, proposed by the administration after a string of mass shootings last year, stalled in Congress. The measures had bipartisan support, but had been amended to a gun-control bill that failed in the Senate.