Rosalynn Carter: Parity at Last


After warmly welcoming its members to her home town, Atlanta, GA, former First Lady Rosalyn Carter brought the American Psychiatric Society up to date on her foundation's mental health advocacy successes.

Former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter has long been an advocate of improving attitudes, care and access surrounding mental health.

Leaving the White House has enabled her to take the quest global, she said.

Addressing the American Psychiatric Association at its 2016 meeting in Atlanta, GA today—to a standing ovation- Carter (photo left) said the Carter Center in Atlanta, a nonprofit co-founded with her husband Jimmy Carter has had much success in bringing mental health concerns to the attention of the government and public.

“We’ve worked at reducing the stigma and influencing policy,” she said, work that included awarding 165 mental health journalism fellowships—the latest fellowship product due to debut on public television June 26 and called “Buried Above Ground” a film about post-traumatic stress disorder.

Programs to address mental illness and its stigma are now in place in the United Arab Emirates and one is starting in Qatar she said.

The foundation has worked in Liberia, where there was only one psychiatrist 10 years ago, to help change that situation to where there are now 166 mental health clinicians in that nation.

The country was “profoundly affected by Ebola,” Carter said, and their services have been in great demand.

The World Bank has approached the foundation to set up training programs in other African nations.

That will likely include Sierra Leone, she said.

Meanwhile, at home in the US, Carter said she is gratified to see Congress again addressing mental health issues, particularly mental health parity—requirements that health plans offer behavioral health coverage.

“Finally we’re seeing parity,” she said, “Parity, incentives, integration of services.” She added that the failure of such a bill to pass Congress during her husband’s administration was a major disappointment.

“Now we have to see that it is strictly enforced.”

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