83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, November 30, 2023


Virgin Islands Congressional Delegate Donna M. Christian-Christensen returned to Washington, DC to join Mrs. Tipper Gore and Vice President Al Gore at the White House Conference on Mental Health Monday June 7.
The conference, held at Howard University and the White House, highlighted mental health care in America and sought to chart a course for how this nation will move forward to address mental illness which affects many American families.
Christensen joined Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Dr. Sue Bailey of the Department of Defense, Dr. Margaret Hamburg of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Don Vereen of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, in a panel discussion on the role of primary care physicians in the prevention and treatment of mentally ill patients. Primary care physicians are often the first point of contact for people with mental illness.
"The subordinate position of mental health in the wellness paradigm is rooted in the fact that because of stigma, the lack of knowledge of the providers, and discomfort in dealing with it, mental health has been separated from physical health. To effectively deal with mental illness, we have to put the whole person back together, in concept, in practice, and in coverage," Christensen said.
Christensen stressed the need for training of primary care physicians to better care for mentally ill patients. "We must do more in training both in medical and other health professional schools and continuing medical education, to increase awareness and expertise in the treatment of mental health."
The Delegate also recommended that substance abuse be acknowledged as an important component of mental illness. "If we want to raise the level of health in this country, we have to achieve parity for mental health, including substance abuse, or health care costs will continue to rise."
President Bill Clinton issued an executive order directing parity in reimbursements for mental health coverage in medical insurance plans covering Federal Employees and introduced several mental health initiatives and programs currently being undertaken by the Administration. The conference concludes with a town hall meeting with the Vice President and Mrs. Gore.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.