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May 31, 2002
For immediate release


President Bush appoints Waltraud Prechter to New Freedom Commission on Mental Health

Washington, D.C.-President George W. Bush has appointed of Waltraud "Wally" E. Prechter to the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

Prechter is President of the Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression located in Southgate, Michigan. She established the Fund in memory of her late husband, Heinz C. Prechter, who fell victim to suicide on July 6, 2001, after battling intermittent bouts of manic depression for most of his adult life. The Fund's goal is to advance breakthrough medical research to develop cures for manic depression.

Upon hearing of her appointment Prechter stated, "I am very honored and humbled to receive this appointment from President Bush. As someone who is keenly aware of depressive disorders and their effects upon the family, I will strive to work hard towards raising awareness of depressive illnesses, finding cures for manic depression, and improving the mental health care system in America. I commend the President for his commitment to address the mental health needs of all Americans."

Prechter recently provided testimony before the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services requesting a significant increase in federal funding for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and bipolar research. She also asked the Department of Health and Human services to convene a national symposium of the "best the brightest" to create a research road map to develop cures for manic depression.

The President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health was created by Executive Order for the purpose of improving America's mental health service delivery system. In addition to Prechter, nine other individuals were selected to serve on the commission.

Its mission is to conduct a comprehensive study of the United States mental health system, including public and private sector providers, and to advise the President on methods of improving the system. The Commission's goal is to recommend improvements to enable adults with serious mental illness and children with serious emotional disturbances to live, work, learn and participate fully in their communities.

The Commission will issue an interim report within six months to describe the needs and barriers to care within the mental health system and to provide examples of community based care models that have successfully coordinated services and provided desired outcomes.

A final report to the President will be submitted at a date to be determined by the Chair in consultation with the President. The Commission was established for one year. However, the President might renew its mandate at a later date.