Celebrating H. Res. 1005 and Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month!
Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill
May 6, 2008
NEA-BPD hosted a Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill on May 6, 2008 to celebrate the unanimous passage of the Resolution (H. Res. 1005) by the U.S. House of Representatives supporting May as Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month. Over sixty people attended the event that was held from 5 to 6:30 pm in the Rayburn House Office Building.
The Reception honored Representatives who had a lead role in supporting and passing the Resolution. Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) received awards for BPD advocacy, and addressed the audience about the need for more resources to advance awareness, research and treatment of BPD. In addition, two invited speakers gave inspiring presentations: Dr. Wayne Goodman, Director of the Division of Adult Translation Research and Treatment of NIMH; and Dr. John Gunderson, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Director of Psychosocial and Personality Research at McLean Hospital.
There were additional remarks by supporters from the audience, as well as from NEA-BPD Board Members.
“I do believe that these measures are very important… to raise public awareness. I think, and all of you know this, but the fact of the matter is, I think, if you ask most Americans if you went to a group, a crowd and said, “How many people have heard of schizophrenia?” a lot of people would raise their hands, right? And if you said, “How many people have heard of bipolar disorder …?” A lot of people would raise their hands because they’d heard of it. They may not know about it. But if you ask them how many heard of borderline personality disorder, there are not a lot of people who would raise their hands, even though more Americans, more people are affected by borderline personality disorder than those other mental health disorders. And so we’ve got our work cut out for us to raise awareness about it, because it is the first step to getting this country to devote more resources to addressing the problem, both in terms of research and studying it, and also in terms of treatment.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
“We have really made extraordinary progress in the Congress just acknowledging that there must be parity between mental and physical illness, and… I can say it took the work of a lot of people in the Congress working together to get this Resolution passed… but what really counts is all of you. And don’t underestimate your power. Your coming to Washington, your speaking to your member of Congress, your giving me your story, your sharing with me the passion that you feel really makes a difference.”
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)
“I just want to thank the parents and the therapists and the families who are adversely affected by this [BPD] but have turned it into something positive. And to identifying it, getting a Resolution passed through the House with no dissenting votes, that’s a rare thing these days. And…I think the next step will be trying to go to NIMH and getting some appropriate funding and some appropriate research and just so that we can understand it better and come to grips with it better. But it started with you. This is genuinely a grassroots movement…”
Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA)
“It’s really an honor to be asked to do this. Here I am in the Congress… It’s such a breakthrough for this disorder and the people in this room who have been treaters and advocates and family members and funders, all of us, there’s this, like, mixed group of people in the room and you’ve come here for different reasons and with different backgrounds. I don’t think any of us could have imagined that there would be a Reception in Congress that would give awareness and recognition to this group of people… Who would have thought that this [BPD] was what my colleague Mary calls a good prognosis diagnosis? NIMH we thank for funding the research that’s made that possible… I was staggered this week when I read that article that 5.9 percent of the population had BPD – I never would have imagined that… what we’re going to learn is still unfolding… So, with that, I’ll just say “Hallelujah, my God, it’s great.”
Dr. John Gunderson
“I’m new to Washington, as you know, but I’d bet that the unanimous bipartisan support for the Resolution is not a typical outcome of House votes. And this exceptional success reflects the effectiveness of the members here who have been honored here today in making a compelling case for the gravity of the disorder… Bringing mental disorders out of the shadows is an active process that, in some cases, may take an Act of Congress, or at least a Resolution of the House. Experience tells us that awareness and Awareness Month is an important step, but only the first step. Borderline personality disorder may be late to join the American lexicon, in part, because mental health professionals were hesitant to make a diagnosis and speak openly to patients and family members about a serious illness for which existing treatments offered little hope. Fortunately, the options for effective treatments are expanding, making this an auspicious time to launch a national awareness campaign…And I can insure you that on our part, NIMH will continue to do its work to fund meritorious research on borderline personality disorder.”
Dr. Wayne Goodman, NIMH