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Newtown's Sandy Hook Promise Urges Better National Mental Health Care

Mark Barden checks out the 'Say Something' campaign at Danbury High School.
Mark Barden checks out the 'Say Something' campaign at Danbury High School. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa

NEWTOWN, Conn. — On the third anniversary of the tragedy that took 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, the nonprofit group Sandy Hook Promise is remaining true to its word — working tirelessly for mental health awareness and gun control initiatives it hopes will make the world safer for future generations.

For SHP Managing Director Mark Barden, working toward tighter gun laws and improved mental health care has become his life’s work.

"Since my sweet, little Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, my mission has been to protect others and promote mental wellness," he said. "One of the many ways to do this is by ensuring people get the comprehensive help they need as early as possible."

Members of SHP traveled to Washington, D.C., this month to urge Congress to fully fund a nationwide initiative to improve and expand access to mental health care, a first-of-its-kind effort based on the Excellence in Mental Health Act.

In that meeting, Barden urged Congress to fully fund all 24 eligible states, not just the eight finalists to be announced next fall.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who met with the group in Washington, was impressed by the members, many of whom are parents of Sandy Hook victims or have other ties to the tragedy. 

“This courageous group of people have endured unspeakable loss and have chosen to turn their pain into positive change to help others and save lives,” said Stabenow, who co-sponsored the Excellence in Mental Health Act.

“Fully funding the Excellence in Mental Health Act will expand access to critically-needed services so illnesses above the neck are treated the same as illnesses below the neck,” Stabenow said, acknowledging SHP’s continued help.

To learn more about Sandy Hook Promise, visit its website.

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