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Weinstein: "We will continue to advocate on behalf of all those around the world who struggle with mental illness and work toward the day when every individual has the support and resources they need to realize their full potential."
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WASHINGTON, DC, October 10, 2008 -- In observance of the 17th World Mental Health Day, Barbara Weinstein, Legislative Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
As we observe the 17th annual World Mental Health Day, we celebrate the recent enactment of a new Mental Health Parity law in the United States. The bill, originally the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Parity Act, was a longtime priority of our friend, the late Senator Paul Wellstone. After many years of delay, those in need of mental health care will no longer be subjected to onerous provisions or costs that are unequal to coverage of physical health care.
People living with mental illnesses historically have faced unfair discrimination in co-payments, doctors' visits and hospital stays. That is why the Union for Reform Judaism has long called on our nation's leaders to make the treatment of mental illness a national priority. This long-overdue legislation, which received strong bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Bush on Friday, October 3, 2008, will require group health insurance plans to cover mental illnesses, such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as well as substance abuse disorders, on the same terms and conditions as other illnesses. Finally, America's mentally ill can receive the equitable treatment they deserve.
Even as we thank Congress and the President for their action on this important mental health issue, our work is not complete. The traditional Jewish prayer for the sick asks for a refuah sheleimah -- a complete recovery of both the soul and of the body. Our tradition recognizes a distinction between the non-physical and the physical, and views them equally, recognizing that both are necessary for health and wholeness. We will continue to advocate on behalf of all those around the world who struggle with mental illness and work toward the day when every individual has the support and resources they need to realize their full potential.