Mental Health America Honors Congressman
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (June 5, 2008) Mental Health America today will honor Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) with its Career Achievement Award for his invaluable contributions and untiring leadership in championing parity legislation to improve access to mental health and addiction treatment.
Ramstad will be presented the award at the kickoff of the Capitol Hill Advocacy Day of Mental Health America’s Annual Conference and Inaugural Promotion and Prevention Summit, being held in Washington, D.C.
First elected to the House of Representatives in 1990, Ramstad will retire from Congress at the end of this year.
Ramstad has championed the cause of parity for over a decade. The cosponsor of the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, his leadership built increasing support for the legislation which led to the historic House passage of the bill in March. The bill outlaws health insurance practices that discriminate against Americans with mental health and substance-use conditions under employer-sponsored health care plans. Lawmakers are currently working to reach a compromise between the House bill and a Senate version.
“Jim Ramstad has been a true profile in courage. Because of his efforts, we stand just a few steps away from winning a major civil rights victory,” said David L. Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. “His passion and determination have propelled mental health parity legislation to the forefront. We will greatly miss his leadership, but he will leave Congress with a legacy of action and achievement.”
Last year, Ramstad and Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) embarked on a nationwide tour through the Campaign to Insure Mental Health and Addiction Equity to highlight the importance of mental health parity. The series of field hearings, which Mental Health America helped to organize, galvanized support for legislative action and brought the voices of Americans to the Congressional debate over equal access to care for mental health and addiction.
Ramstad also co-founded two bipartisan congressional caucuseswhose mission is to educate members of Congress about substanceabuse issues: the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery (ART) Caucus and the Caucus on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
In 1999, Mental Health America presented Ramstad its Legislator of the Year Award.
The Mental Health America Annual Conference, which this year carries the theme “No Health Without Mental Health,” is being held at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. It is bringing together from around the country advocates, mental health consumers, policy makers, community leaders, and executives and staff from 320 Mental Health America state and local affiliates to learn about critical issues in the behavioral health field and map strategies for collective action.