NAMI’s Response to President Trump’s Recent Comments On Mental Health Care

In recent days, there has been a lot of rhetoric by the President and the NRA about “crazy people” and a desire to return to the days of the “institutions.” These comments reinforce inaccurate and negative stereotypes and create barriers to having real conversations about how to improve the mental health services that lead to recovery and participation in American society by people experiencing mental health conditions.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness fights for a more understanding and accepting world for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness, and for a mental health system that provides the care and support they need to do well in school, work and life. All Americans should have coverage for mental health care and access to treatment when needed.

Psychiatric institutions were closed historically for many reasons, including unsafe treatment of patients and deplorable conditions. Today, we see many youth and young adults languishing in emergency rooms and law enforcement officers are forced to respond to crises because mental health services are frequently not available. There is a need for high-quality inpatient care, including as a last resort, court ordered treatment.

Solutions to this crisis also require more than inpatient care. There are many common sense approaches that we know are effective and that can be implemented now to improve access to mental health services along a continuum of care for youth who are at risk. These include:

  • Implementing intensive community-based mental health interventions for youth and young adults with the most serious mental illnesses.
  • Integrating mental health in primary care and in schools so that mental health treatment is readily available.
  • Increasing access to high-quality inpatient treatment through repealing the exclusion in Medicaid for paying for these beds and increasing reimbursement along with required outcomes.
  • Ensuring a well-funded and strong mental health system through fully funding the Medicaid program and requiring private health insurance to provide adequate coverage for mental health and substance use treatment.

NAMI would welcome the opportunity to meet with President Trump and work with his administration on steps for improving mental health services in America. We were proud to participate in the Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee for Serious Mental Illness. This report provides the Administration with a blueprint for fixing our nation’s broken mental health system, including improving services for children and youth who are at risk.

President Donald Trump’s Remarks:

“You know, years ago we had mental hospitals, mental institutions, we had a lot of them, and a lot of them have closed. Some people thought it was a stigma, some people thought, frankly, the legislators thought it was too expensive. Today if you catch somebody they don’t know what to do with them,” Trump said. “He hasn’t committed the crime, but he may very well, and there’s no mental institution, there’s no place to bring them. We have that a lot.”

In response to these remarks from the president, Nicole Hockley, who lost her son during the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting and attended the listening session, explained why she disagreed “mental institutions” were part of the solution.

I think it’s important to note that someone with a mental illness is highly unlikely to commit an act of violence. It’s a really, really small percentage, what we’re really dealing with here, it’s more of a lack of mental wellness. This is around anger and fear. And that’s not something you can diagnosis and put in mental health hospitals.

Hockly said it’s important to talk about getting more funding for mental health services, and added that suicide was the second leading cause of death among teenagers — and firearms the most lethal suicide method.


  1. Reply
    Marylee Henricks says

    It is heartrending to hear the discriminating and hateful comments from Donald Trump about his response to people with mental illness. Thank you for continuing to be a strong and reasoned voice for meaningful care, support and services for those with mental illness.

    • Reply
      Zecharia Gilbert says

      Mary, thanks for your response! Well, there is still a stigma attached to mental illness as displayed by even our President. It’s our job here to educate the public about mental health issues and care for those in need of our services. Thank you for your support! – NAMI CCNS

  2. Reply
    Helen McGohan says

    Thank you for the wonderful work you do for mental health. Getting the word out to our communities and elected officials on the need for education and better mental health care facilities is so important. It seems we take one step forward, and our elected officials, with one tweet, erase all the hard work. Scare tactics and guns are not the answer. Education and compassion is the key if only they would listen.

    • Reply
      Zecharia Gilbert says

      Thank you for your comment and thank you for your support! You are right! Education and compassion is the key!

  3. Reply
    Marilyn Danos says

    NAMI in every state & in throughout states’ counties sponsors diverse & numerous on going programs, 8-12 week classes & continuous support groups for family members; consumer peer to peer; veterans & their family members; young adults going back to college & in careers; “In Your Own Voice;”‘ Presentations at Middle & High Schools & Colleges.

    NAMI also supports CIT (Crisis Intervention Treatment) police officer training in order to diffuse crisis situations for individuals with mental health with or sans substance challenges to diffuse crisise; recommends WRAP – Wellness Recovery Action Plan for consumers.

    NAMI offers educational evenings for consumers & family members; s well as programs, classes & support groups in Spanish.

    NAMI is also well known as an advocacy group working with legislatures &’communities to reduce stigma toward individuals with mental health challenges with or sans substance use challenges.

    Predominately comprised of a few paid staff. However, with a large volunteer base .

    Annually, NAMI holds annual fundraising events – ‘Walk &’Run Day, to major fundraising events to support NAMI organizations myriad of programs, classes, services &’volunteer efforts.

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