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Department of Mental Health Director Attends White House Conference on Mental Illness

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Department of Mental Health Director Attends White House Conference on Mental Illness

District of Columbia selected to host dialogue on mental illness stigma

Washington, DC—The District of Columbia Department of Mental (DMH) Health Director Steve Baron was invited to attend the June 3 “White House Conference on Mental Health” with more than 200 mental health advocates, policy makers and mental health providers.  President Obama opened the conference with a strong message to start a national conversation to increase understanding of mental health and to encourage those with mental health and substance use conditions to seek care. 

The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching a new campaign to address mental illness stigma and has created a new website at www.mentalhealth.gov.   The District of Columbia was selected as one of the states to hold local dialogues over the next year as a follow up to the conference.

Mayor Gray announced in January the formation of a new Department of Behavioral Health to integrate treatment and services for residents with mental health and substance use disorders.  In his announcement, he said the new department would help create public awareness of the role of behavioral health and challenge assumptions that create misunderstandings and prejudices that can make people who need help reluctant to seek treatment. 

“We know that treatment is effective and recovery is possible”, said Director Baron who will become the director of the Department of Behavioral Health when it becomes effective on October 1.

To access mental health services, a District resident can call the Access Helpline at 1-888-793-4357 seven days a week to talk to a mental health counselor or contact a provider directly from the list of certified providers at http://dmh.dc.gov/providers