Category Access to Treatment

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.

Read More

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.”

Read More

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?

Read More

Criminalizing Mental Health in the United States

Melody_MoezziMelody Moezzi

More than 60 percent of the population in U.S. prisons are minorities, and by some accounts, the three largest mental health facilities in the country are prisons. CFYM continues its interview with attorney, author and mental health activist Melody Moezzi as she points to educating ourselves and the public about our legal rights as a means to righting these injustices.

Criminalizing Mental Health in the United States

CFYM: Melody, in addition to being an award-winning author, you are a public speaker, attorney and an advocate, you also have a Masters in public health. What changes would you like to see in public health policy with respect to mental health care?

MM: First, we need to stop criminalizing mental illness in the US. The three largest mental health facilities in this country are prisons. That’s beyond unacceptable, and it needs to change, particularly in a country that imprisons more of its citizens than any other on the planet. Furthermore, the use of solitary confinement—both in prisons and hospitals—needs to end. I feel very strongly about this because I’ve experienced “isolation,” and I have no doubt that it is cruel, unusual and downright inhuman. No human being is meant to live like that, even for a short period of time. We are social creatures. We need contact with others; we need compassion; we need connection—especially when we’re going through a crisis. That’s just human nature.

Read More

Does Cultural Bipolarity Create Barriers to the Delivery of Quality Mental Health Care?

Melody Moezzi

Melody_MoezziWhat would it be like if your clinician didn’t understand your culture or treated you as something other than “normal” because of your ethnicity, religion, or gender?  Would you receive appropriate, effective treatment? Attorney, author and mental health activist Melody Moezzi talks with Care For Your Mind about how her religion influences her mental health and why the mental health care system should become more culturally competent.

Does Cultural Bipolarity Create Barriers to the Delivery of Quality Mental Health Care?

CFYM:  In your book, Hadol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life, you write about your experience living with and recovering from both clinical and cultural bipolarity. Can you expand on how you experienced cultural bipolarity?

Read More

Tackling Disparities, Achieving Equity

vivianVivian H. Jackson, Ph.D.
National Center for Cultural Competence, National TA Center for Children’s Mental Health
Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development

We are a nation of immigrants, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at our mental health care system. It’s hard enough to access quality mental health care services, but the challenge is even greater when cultural, racial, linguistic, or other demographic factors come into play. Today, Dr. Vivian Jackson blogs about what is being done to reduce the barriers to quality care and to promote culturally and linguistically appropriate services in mental health.

Tackling Disparities, Achieving Equity
How You Can Help Eliminate Disparities in Mental Health Care

What’s the problem?
As a society we claim to value fairness, yet every day there is evidence that we are a nation operating with significant disparities in mental health care. Is this fair? Are we offering services in a manner that meets the definition of fair: “not exhibiting any bias, and therefore reasonable and impartial”­?

Read More

Louisiana is a National Leader with their “Prescriber Prevails” Medicaid Policy

BenNeversBen Nevers
State Senator Louisiana

For the past three weeks we’ve devoted this blog to raising awareness around a proposed regulation by the CMS to restrict access to mental health care. But did you know that individual states have fail first policies as well, through the implementation of their Medicaid programs? Read today’s post to learn if your state is on the list.

Louisiana is a National Leader with their “Prescriber Prevails” Medicaid Policy
Keeps access to medication in the hands of physicians and patients

There are many reasons why people do not receive adequate mental health treatment, each of those reasons is as unique and as highly personalized as the individuals themselves. Yet, nearly all stem from the fundamental problem of access. Access to timely, appropriate, affordable mental health care is too often limited and restricted as a result of the following:

  • a shortage of providers or inpatient beds in a given community
  • insurer restrictions on what, when and how providers can prescribe medication and treatment
  • cost barriers that put mental health care financially out of reach

When such barriers obstruct access to care, more people are at risk for serious, disabling mental illness; and in those cases, society bears the related costs. For that reason, I believe we must work together to address these barriers and expand access to mental health services. The cost of not doing so is enormous.

Read More

What Does 2014 Have in Store for Mental Health Funding and Access?

ChuckIngogliaCharles Ingoglia
Senior Vice President, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Now that we’re a couple of weeks into January, 2014 is shaping up to be another important year for mental health policy. In today’s CFYM post, Charles Ingoglia, MSW, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, National Council for Behavioral Healthcare shares why he is optimistic about advancement of mental health policy issues in 2014.

Last week, we asked for your input about the most pressing mental health issues for the year ahead. So, there’s certainly plenty to talk about. Share your thoughts on whether or not you are optimistic about mental health advancements or if you think there is still much work to be done by commenting in today’s post.

Read More