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Why do Presidential Candidates Need to Talk about Mental Health?

June 3, 2015

In the 2012 Presidential Campaign the issue of mental health treatment rarely was discussed by the candidates or questioned by the media.  All health focus related to the Affordable Care Act and mental health was only brought up in relation to tragic incidents. Discussions on mental health most often go on behind closed doors. Now is the time to discuss it on the front porches and the small town cafes all across Iowa and the country prior to the February 16 Caucus.

Discussion of other physiological issues brings sympathy and stirring stories from people affected and their families. In the community these people and families have casseroles brought to their doors in the time of a health crisis. In the political arena, these people are introduced at political rallies or are spoken about during debates. Neither occurs in the case of mental health.

Now, with 12 officially declared candidates visiting Iowa, is the time to make mental health a primary issue, or, in Iowa’s case, a caucus issue.  It is a time for advocacy from the heartland and prioritization of dollars from all levels of government from the school board up to the Office of the President of the United States.

Breaking down the barriers requires persons with mental illness, their families and their compassionate mental health providers to speak up on the importance of adequate funding of mental health care for all ages. These people should be afforded the same sympathy, compassion, treatment and air time as those with other health issues receive. It is time that we all take responsibility to help “fix” the stigma, erase the barriers, and fund the treatment for mental illness. Let’s make mental health a focus of this campaign

Learn more about how you can help challenge the presidential candidates and raise money to support mental health treatment through Iowa Cares – The Hillcrest Mental Health Presidential Challenge.


– Gary Gansemer, President/CEO, Hillcrest Family Services