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Addiction agencies demand election-year visibility

August 7, 2008
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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More than 70 organizations in the addiction and mental health communities are out to ensure that addictions and mental illness achieve the most prominent status yet in presidential campaign discussions. Working as the Whole Health Campaign, these groups have formally announced their activity related to the national election, including submission of information for both major parties’ platform development processes.

Campaign organizers see strength in the partnership between the addiction and mental health communities, which they consider crucial to reversing past disappointment over the degree to which key health policy topics have been addressed in presidential campaigns. “For the first time in American history, mental illness and addiction groups are uniting as one voice,” Ron Manderscheid, PhD, director of mental health and substance use programs at Global Health Sector, SRA International, Inc., said in a statement.

Dr. Manderscheid

Most of the major associations representing addiction treatment and recovery have signed on to the effort, and the campaign also has attracted participation from some of the most prominent individual treatment facilities, such as the Betty Ford Center, Caron Treatment Centers and the Hazelden Foundation.

“We are thrilled to participate in the Whole Health Campaign,” commented Missy Orlando, Caron’s executive vice president of corporate planning and communications. “On behalf of more than 84 million Americans with a mental health or addictive disorder, it’s imperative that our industries unite for policy reform and to ultimately save millions of lives.”

The campaign last month testified at a meeting held as part of the Democratic National Committee’s platform development process, and will be participating in the Republican National Committee’s online process for platform development.