Category Access to Treatment

Illinois Advocates Unite to Tackle High Costs of Treatments

Naoki Nakamura
Chair, DBSA IL Grassroots Organization

Karen was finalizing the dissolution of an 18-year marriage while managing increasing expectations at her demanding job. In order to cope with depression coupled with her Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder (PMDD), her psychiatrist prescribed a medication that is unavailable in generic form. As a result, Karen’s monthly prescription cost was well over $100, on an insurance plan that had a $2,000 deductible.

Karen was overwhelmed: “I felt I had to keep working and making more money just to pay for my medication. It was a vicious circle.”

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Time to Stop Punishing the Chronically Ill: Why I Support Capping Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs

Care for Your Mind kicks off a new series on state-level issues of access to quality mental health care. This post focuses on activities in just one state, but advocacy around this topic is happening across the country.

Representative Laura Fine (Illinois 17th District)

I am a proud co-sponsor of legislation (IL HB 3605) that seeks to shield patients and their families from the exorbitant out-of-pocket drug co-payments increasingly being imposed by health insurers...

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What to Do When You Can’t Afford Therapy

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

By 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
    • tied to beds
    • kept in isolation in psychiatric institutions
    • chained and caged in small cells, and
    • abused by “traditional” healing practices

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It’s About Mental Health, America

Paul Gionfriddo
President and CEO, Mental Health America

I became President and CEO of Mental Health America on May 1, honored by the opportunity to work with so many wonderful advocates on behalf of people with concern for mental health. At Mental Health America, our goal is:

  • prevention for all
  • early identification and intervention for those at risk
  • integrated health and behavioral health services for those who need them, and
  • recovery as a goal

Changing the treatment paradigm
For too long, policymakers and some advocates have been mired in what I call Stage 4 thinking. They have accepted the largely false premise that mental health concerns and violence are intertwined. They have accepted “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.

But as I have said repeatedly, mental illnesses are the only chronic conditions that we treat this way. They are the only chronic conditions where, as a matter of public policy, we wait until Stage 4 to treat, and then often only through incarceration.

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Can You Thrive with a Mood Disorder?

dr_greg_simonGregory Simon, MD, MPH
Investigator, Center for Health Studies Group Health Cooperative

Can You Thrive with a Mood Disorder?

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has designated 2014 as the Year of Thriving. Throughout the year, they are challenging the organization and the mental health community to set higher goals, to shift the conversation from “surviving” or “managing” a mood disorder to truly thriving.

In a recent DBSA podcast, Dr. Joseph Calabrese and I discuss the limitations of current treatment options for mood disorders and the need within the clinical and patient communities to shift expectations and raise treatment goals to complete remission of symptoms and sustained wellness.

We are challenging our entire field—clinicians, researchers, administrators, and policy makers—to set higher goals for mental health treatment. Our goal is not simply to control or reduce symptoms, but to eliminate them.

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Target Zero: Redefining the Clinical Definition of Success

CFYM_promo

The first priority in treating a mood disorder is ensuring that the person is out of immediate crisis. But should this be the end goal? Too often researchers, providers, family members, and peers consider a stable mood as a measurement of a successful outcome.

On April 1, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) kicked off a month-long program challenging the mental health community to raise expectations from fewer symptoms to zero symptoms. “Target Zero to Thrive” is a campaign to insist on new standards for research and treatment that raise the bar from stability to lives of wellness.

Twenty-one million people in the U.S. live with mood disorders, and persisting symptoms increase the likelihood of:

  • relapse
  • functional impairment that increases the challenges of work, family, and day-to-day living
  • life-threatening co-occurring conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension
  • death by suicide

According to Allen Doederlein, president of DBSA, “Living with a mood disorder can damage hope and lower expectations so a person may not expect or think they deserve a full life. We as peers, clinicians, researchers, and family need to help them expect and achieve more.”

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Working to Dispel Stigma Among Asian Americans

PataSuyemotoPata Suyemoto
Working to Dispel Stigma Among Asian Americans

Cultural stigma and language barriers result in extremely low utilization of mental health services among Asian Americans (8.6 percent versus nearly 18 percent of general population). But individuals and organizations are working to narrow the gap between the need for services and the use of services. Pata Suyemoto is a Massachusetts-based mental health activist and educator. Mood disorders are present in both of her parents’ families, and she lives with treatment-resistant depression.

How was depression addressed in your own family?
My father, who is Japanese American, did not acknowledge mental health issues in his family, including those with my mother or me. The denial and sense of shame about mental health issues were unavoidable, and I still see that in other Asian Americans today.

What is the key issue and what are you doing to create change among Asian Americans?

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