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Newtown anniversary spurs White House pledge on mental health

That mental illness is and should be a concern for the United States is something that few people would likely disagree with. How to go about addressing the issue is another matter. Despite widespread acceptance that mental conditions can be just as detrimental as physical problems, they tend not be handled the same way.

Those experienced in obtaining Social Security disability insurance benefits know that, even though the Social Security Administration acknowledges mental conditions can be disabling, benefits are often denied. Californians fighting for their disability rights may benefit from having an attorney's help.

The issue of mental illness is once again being thrust into the limelight this week. 

That's because tomorrow is the first anniversary of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people, most of them elementary school children, died in the tragedy. The gunman, known to have mental issues, also killed his mother and himself.

In the wake of the shooting, a push for greater gun control was launched. It was countered by strong lobbying from gun rights activists and nothing to speak of has resulted. There was also intense effort to focus attention on the shortcomings in mental illness. That hasn't resulted in much either, yet.

Last month, the administration pledged to do more to make sure health insurers comply with the Mental Health Parity Act. That law requires mental health service coverage that is on a par with that provided for physical conditions. And this week, the administration announced it will put $100 million toward boosting mental health programs through enforcement of mental health access laws already on the books.

Mental health advocates welcome the actions. They express the hope that White House pressure might move Congress to act sometime next year.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Sandy Hook Anniversary Leads White House to Invest $100 Million in Mental Health System," Lauren Fox, Dec. 10, 2013

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