Obama calls for end to mental illness stigma

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has called for a more robust national discussion on mental illness, saying the time had come to bring the issue “out of the shadows.”

At the opening session of a White House conference on mental health, he said his goal was to let people affected by these issues know they should not suffer in silence.

“Struggling with a mental illness or caring for someone who does can be isolating,” Obama said. “It begins to feel as if, not only are you alone, but that you shouldn’t burden others with the challenge.”

The conference is part of Obama’s response to last year’s shooting massacre at a Connecticut school. While the president emphasized that most people with mental health problems are not violent, he said untreated mental illness can lead to larger tragedies.

There’s been little publicly revealed about the mental health of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, although it’s been documented that other gunmen involved in mass shootings suffered from mental illness. Federal law bans certain mentally ill people from purchasing firearms, but the background check system is woefully incomplete and Obama is trying to get more mental health records included.

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