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Election 2012: Recovery Rooms and Party Platforms

September 5, 2012
by Ron Manderscheid
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The Coalition for Whole Health has undertaken key election tasks this year

With the annual demarcation of the Labor Day Holiday, Election 2012 is now in full swing. As in 2008, the Coalition for Whole Health (CWH) again has been very active in seeking to focus attention on mental illness and substance use prevention, care, and recovery at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, and at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

CWH was formed in 2008 to promote recognition of the need to address mental illness and substance use conditions as part of the quadrennial national elections. At that time, CWH supported Recovery Rooms at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, sought to increase attention to behavioral health issues in the party platforms, and prepared a series of white papers for the Transition Teams formed at the beginning of President Obama’s Administration.  Later, CWH supported passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and has since been working with the Administration and the field to implement national health reform. Over this four-year period, CWH has grown from fewer than 30 national and state mental health and substance use prevention and treatment advocacy organizations to more than 160. You can learn more about CWH at  

This year, as four years ago, CWH provided support for Recovery Rooms at both National Conventions.  The Recovery Rooms were intended to serve as a safe haven for persons suffering from the effects of mental illness or substance use conditions while they were participating in the Conventions. Faces and Voices of Recovery—FAVOR—again took the lead in organizing both Recovery Rooms.  The Rooms were staffed by volunteers, many of whom are peers recovering from mental or substance use conditions.  We all owe Pat Taylor, Executive Director of FAVOR, a deep tip of our hat for her outstanding work in organizing these activities.

At the same time, CWH again sought to have its mission incorporated into the two party platforms. Simply stated, the CWH mission is to improve health insurance coverage, integrated care, and prevention services for persons with mental illness and substance use conditions.

This year, the Republican Party Platform (see: recognizes both substance use and mental illness as serious health problems (p.22). It also voices strong support for health insurance coverage, clinical prevention services, and coordinated care.

Importantly, with respect to behavioral healthcare, it says: “We believe that all Americans should have improved access to affordable, coordinated, quality healthcare, including individuals struggling with mental illness. (p.33)” 

By contrast, the Democratic Party Platform (see: ) strongly supports the ACA and “accessible, affordable, high quality health care…. (p. 4)”, and it acknowledges the important role of clinical prevention services. It also addresses the need for a strong health care workforce and continued investment in public health infrastructure, including community-based efforts to prevent disease (p. 5).



Ron Manderscheid

Exec. Dir., NACBHDD and NARMH

Ron Manderscheid


Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D., serves as the Executive Director of the National Association of County...

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