What Should Employers Do to Increase Access to Mental Health Care?

kenDKen Dolan-DelVecchio, LMFT, LCSW, DVS, CEAP, SPHR
Vice President, Health and Wellness, Prudential Financial, Inc.

I read Carolyn Beauchamp’s recent post CFYM with interest, but not surprise. Ms. Beacuchamp discusses the inadequacies of insurers’ behavioral health networks and highlights the challenges that insured patients encounter when seeking mental health care. Often network information is outdated or incorrect, and it can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating to obtain an appointment. For someone in a worsening mental health state, such obstacles are frustrating at best, catastrophic at worst.

While Carolyn’s piece sheds light on this important issue, it is—unfortunately—not news to those of us who work in the behavioral health field. As a practitioner, I experienced the frustrations of patients struggling to find an in-network provider or schedule an appointment within a reasonable time frame. Now, in my current role as Vice President, Health and Wellness, at Prudential Financial, I work to combat these challenges and reduce obstacles to care.

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How Can We Achieve Mental Health Parity If There Are Not Enough Practicing Psychiatrists?

philmuskinA provider’s perspective on the limited access to mental health care

Dr. Philip R. Muskin
Professor of Psychiatry
Columbia University Medical Center

As a practicing psychiatrist and patient advocate, I strongly believe that equal treatment and quality care should apply to someone who has a chronic mental health illness, like schizophrenia or major depressive disorder, requiring ongoing therapeutic and complex medical management, just as would apply to a patient in need of cardiovascular treatment or other chronic medical issue.

I’m troubled and frustrated by the rash of recent studies finding that patients across the United States are unable to obtain a timely appointment with a local mental health provider, notably a psychiatrist, who accepts their insurance coverage. This growing problem, old news to those of us practicing in the field, is multi-faceted and a fix will require a significant commitment to change on the part of many involved in the delivery and financing of health care. Unfortunately, it’s not clear such a commitment yet exists.

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If Access is Lacking, Do We Have Mental Health Parity?

carolynbeauchampCarolyn Beauchamp
President and CEO, Mental Health Association in New Jersey
Mental Health Association of NJ Finds Access to Providers Lacking 

Rhonda’s story 
Rhonda, a young woman living with both bipolar disorder and an eating disorder for most of her life, was frustrated. She’d been trying for weeks to find a new psychiatrist, after being released from an inpatient clinic, where she was treated for a severe bipolar episode. On a list of 15 providers, several were simply unreachable, either wrong numbers or no answer. When she got through to the others, they were either not accepting her insurance or had a 4-6 week wait for an appointment. She felt distraught and hopeless. She didn’t know how she would cope.

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Suicide Prevention Efforts Aren’t Working. Here’s Why.

CAPK4R5LDonna Holland Barnes, PhD
President/Co-Founder, National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide
Howard University, Department of Psychiatry

Now is a frustrating time to be working in suicide prevention. While death rates for the other leading causes of death are mostly decreasing or holding steady, death rates for suicide continue to climb. In 2000, the U.S. suicide rate was 10.4 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By 2011, the rate had climbed to 12.3 deaths per 100,000 people. Suicide rates among middle-age adults rose at an even higher rate, jumping nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2010, according to the CDC.

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What to Do When You Can’t Afford Therapy

MorrowKimberly Morrow, LCSW

Practical advice for obtaining quality mental healthcare when money is tight

Thanks to mental health parity, many more people have access to psychotherapy than in the past. But two great barriers to treatment remain. The first is shame, as the stigma of mental illness still prevents many from seeking professional help. The second is cost, because even when people have health insurance, the expense of co-pays and high deductibles can be too much when money is tight.

For some people, the predicament of needing mental health treatment, but not being able to afford it is doubly shameful, and so they never seek the care they need.

But I’m here to tell you there are ways to obtain high-quality therapy for little or no cost, and people should never let shame get in the way of wellness. Here are some tips for talking to mental health providers about cost concerns, as well as suggestions for ways you can get free or discounted care.

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The Clock Is Ticking on the 7 Million Uninsured with Behavioral Health Conditions

Ron ManderscheidRon Manderscheid, PhD
Executive Director
National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors

Now is the time to help the 7 million uninsured Americans with behavioral health conditions understand their health coverage.

In a recent post, Hannah Sentenac discussed the challenges young adults face accessing mental healthcare. Because many Millennials are choosing job flexibility and self-employment over traditional employment, they are faced with the costly prospect of purchasing their own health insurance; and many have simply chosen to go without. Even for Millennials who have insurance (either employer-sponsored or self-purchased), high co-pays and hefty out-of-network charges have prevented many from obtaining mental health treatment, she states.


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Are Millennials Receiving Adequate Mental Health Coverage?

hannah-happy-2By: Hannah Sentenac

How hard is it to find the right health insurance, one that covers all of your medical and mental health needs and is affordable? It’s difficult for all of us, but more challenging for some. Now is the open enrollment period for many employer-sponsored health insurance plans, the ACA, and Medicare. Over the next several weeks CFYM will look at a variety of challenges facing different populations, beginning with today’s post on the generation of Millennials. .

Millennials are a lot of things: large in number, highly nontraditional, devotees of the almighty Google. A massive generation, we encompass everyone born between 1980 and 1999, which totals 80 Million+ Americans.

Unfortunately, we’re also a generation suffering from a lot of mental health woes.

Studies show Millennials tend to suffer from higher stress levels and mental health concerns than other generations. A 2013 study by the American Psychological Association and Harris Interactive found that more Millennials have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety than any other living generation, and that we’re more stressed than any other living generation.

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The Time to Act Is Now; Help Create a Global Movement for Mental Health

Kathryn GoetzkeBy Kathryn Goetzke

Psychosocial disability is one of the more pressing development issues of our time, yet for too long it’s been a low priority.

Consider:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in four people will experience an episode of mental illness in their lifetime, and approximately 600 million people worldwide are disabled as a result
  • Mental and behavioral disorders account for 7.4% of the global burden of disease measured using Daily Adjusted Life Years (DALYs)
  • Men and women in high income countries living with a mental health condition die 15 to 20 years earlier than those who do not
  • Individuals with psychosocial disabilities in low and middle income countries are more vulnerable to poverty, hunger, conflict, trauma, and poor access to health and social care
  • People living with psychosocial disability experience severe human rights violations including being
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Despite VA Benefits and Disability Coverage, Jennifer Struggles to Get the Care She Needs

jennifer for cfymAlthough Jennifer remembers “just not feeling right” in high school and telling a teacher that she wanted to die, she wasn’t diagnosed with major depression until she was nearly 30. An unrelated medical disability required her release from the Navy, and a car accident shortly thereafter further complicated Jennifer’s physical health and depression. In constant pain, she often wondered if her life would ever get better. At a couple of dark points, the possibility of taking her life became a concern. Jennifer sought emergency help at the VA and was hospitalized in the psychiatric ward.

“I was the only female up there,” Jennifer recalls. She describes the situation as “scary” for a woman, grouped with men whose issues run the gamut from alcohol abuse to serious mental illness. For those in the VA hospital’s psychiatric ward, she says, “They don’t have separate treatment.”

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Coaching Into Care—VA Mental Health Coaching Service for Family and Friends of Veterans

steven_johnBy Steven Sayers, Ph.D. and John DeVincent, Psy.D.

This Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Day, Coaching Into Care (CIC) would like to recognize that our country’s Service Members and Veterans have given much to our country. Their families have also served and sacrificed by supporting them, caring for family when they were deployed, and helping them start new lives when they leave active duty. We are grateful for their courage and strength.

Recognizing the role of the family
Family members play an important role in supporting Veterans when they are in need of help, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has resources to assist them through an innovative program called Coaching Into Care (CIC). Celebrating its third year, this free and confidential VA helpline helps callers discover new ways to talk with a Veteran about their concerns and treatment options. The program’s mission is to educate, support, and empower family members and friends who are seeking care or services for a Veteran, with an end goal of encouraging distressed Veterans to successfully access VA care anywhere in the United States.

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