Category Access to Treatment

Five Issues Related to Minority Mental Health

Print
In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives recognized the need to bring attention to issues around mental health awareness among, and mental health care for, the nation’s minority communities. To further those issues, the House passed a resolution in support of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (with the open enrollment period beginning on October 1, 2013) should help address one of the issues outlined in the resolution: the fact that many minority mental health consumers are underinsured or uninsured, and thus receive a diagnosis late in their illness, if at all.

But what about the other issues?

Top 5 Issues Related to Minority Mental Health

Here are Care for Your Mind’s top 5 issues related to minority mental health awareness that remain to be addressed. (All quotes are from the text of the resolution.)

  1. Disproportionate access to services:“adult Caucasians who suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder are more likely to receive treatment than adult African Americans with the same disorders even though the disorders occur in both groups at about the same rate, when taking into account socioeconomic factors”

Read More

Sequestration Update: Feeling the Pain

Care for Your Mind Update


capitol3Two months ago, we shifted from discussing the importance of access and barriers to access to examining how a specific governmental policy, sequestration, was impacting the delivery of mental health services across the country. Even then, we could already point to examples of sequestration’s impact: the closing of a residential treatment center in Alaska, the reduced availability of civilian mental health professionals to military personnel, and the increased wait to receive residential treatment in Utah—not to mention the potentially devastating long-term impact of spending cuts on research, both in terms of treating people during clinical studies and finding effective treatments to mental health conditions.

It is unsettling, though perhaps not surprising, that the most-reported impacts of sequestration have been airport travel delays and the cancellation of air shows at Military bases for the July 4 celebrations. Because these cause discomfort for the general population, they are easy topics for media coverage. However, this does not appropriately reflect the level of real suffering happening as a result of sequestration across the country. This under representation of suffering is probably due to the fact that the populations arguably suffering the most severe consequences from sequestration are in fact underrepresented in general—the poor, people in the military, and minorities (an ironic realization as we reach the end of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, which draws attention to the need for mental health awareness, better utilization of services, and the development of culturally competent care for the nation’s racial and ethnic minorities).

Read More

What’s standing in the way of mental health recovery?

Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W.
Director, Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Yesterday, Paolo del Vecchio told his personal recovery story and shared a set of elements that help define recovery. Today, he puts recovery into perspective with health reform.

Opportunities for Recovery under the ACAdelvecchio

To recover, individuals need access to quality, affordable health care and mental health services. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections to an estimated 62 million Americans and heralds a new era of hope for people with mental illnesses.

Beginning January 1, 2014, millions of uninsured Americans with mental health and substance use conditions will have access to health insurance coverage, many for the first time. In addition, thanks to the new health care law, beginning in 2014, insurers will no longer be able to deny anyone coverage because of a pre-existing mental health condition. Individuals will be able to sign up and enroll for insurance beginning in October of this year. People should go to www.healthcare.gov to find info on how to enroll.

Read More

Defining Recovery: From Mental Health Consumer to Policymaker

Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W.
Director, Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

delvecchioWe recover in community. In community, we share stories and spread hope. And in community, we raise our voices so all may have the opportunity for recovery.

For more than 40 years, I have been involved in behavioral health as a consumer, family member, provider, advocate, and now policymaker.

The thread throughout my journey has been opportunity and hope. Over the years, I’ve learned that it is community that provides opportunity, and it is in community that we find hope.

I am pleased to participate in this forum to share stories of recovery and spread the message that recovery is not only possible, it is the expected outcome of services, supports, and treatment. Together, through our shared experiences and with our collective voice, we can change the conversation on mental health and increase awareness of the possibility of recovery.

My Recovery Story

My own story is deeply rooted in the healing power of community. I experienced mental illness early in my childhood.

As a child, I experienced trauma by witnessing domestic violence and alcoholism in the family. As a result, I became withdrawn, depressed and anxious. And, I was alone.

Read More

Older Adults Need Specialized Mental Health Care

David Steffens, M.D., M.H.S.
President, American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry

steffens.August2008

Just as a family with a child suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other illness would want a clinician who specializes in helping children, older adults deserve care from clinicians trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating older patients.

The mental health needs of the elderly differ from the rest of the population.

Why?

In general, older adults have more medical illnesses than younger people and may have cognitive problems that can worsen with depression and other health issues. Older individuals often suffer more losses—such as the loss of a spouse, friends, or independence—and these losses can lead to depression. Older adults may also be reluctant to discuss mental health issues, particularly concerns about memory and Alzheimer’s disease.

Read More

Case Study: Patient-Centric Mental Health Care Solutions

Senator David Carlucci
Chair, Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities
New York State Senate

CarlucciOn this blog a few days ago, Andrew Sperling of the National Alliance on Mental Illness raised questions about access to mental health treatments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA); and he voiced concerns about people being able to receive the specific mental health drugs they require once the health reform law is implemented.

As Mr. Sperling pointed out, restricting access to a full class of drugs and limiting prescribers’ option to one drug per class—which health plans can opt to do under ACA—can be short-sighted from an economics standpoint and disastrous from a health perspective. Without access to clinically appropriate medication, individuals with mental illness have higher rates of emergency room visits, hospitalization and other health services.

As Chair of the New York State (NYS) Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, I understand that in order to manage the health of people living with serious mental illness, patients need guaranteed access to the full range of drugs and services that are most likely to improve their health. Even more important, I recognize that no one understands a patient’s needs better than his or her healthcare provider; and it’s presumptuous—if not irresponsible—to remove decision-making authority from that provider.

Read More

Health Reform and Access to Prescription Drugs

Andrew Sperling, Director of Legislative Advocacy
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Andrew Sperling, J.D.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers new choices for quality, reliable, low cost private health insurance and opens Medicaid to more people living with mental illness.

Under the law, all health plans are required to provide certain categories of benefits and services—so-called Essential Health Benefits (EHB). One of these is prescription drugs.

A question mark as to prescription drug coverage
While plans will be required to cover a minimum number of prescription drugs used to treat mental health conditions in a therapeutic class, each plan may choose to cover different medications; and the number of covered drugs will vary by state and by plan.  Most significant, the law does not require plans to cover all drugs in a particular therapeutic class.  As a result, medical and behavioral health plans can avoid covering specific drugs that, in your physician’s judgment, best address your needs.

This poses serious challenges for individuals who are in need of multiple drugs per class, particularly people with serious and persistent mental illness, chronic conditions and disabilities. Antipsychotic medications, for example, are not clinically interchangeable, and providers must be able to select the most appropriate, clinically indicated medication for their patients.  What’s more, physicians may need to change medications over the course of an illness as patients suffer side-effects or their illness is less responsive to a particular drug, and patients requiring multiple medications may need access to alternatives to avoid harmful interactions.

Read More

Highlights: National Conference on Mental Health

Official_portrait_of_Barack_ObamaWe don’t want to close out the week without acknowledging the National Conference on Mental Health held at the White House this past Monday. Attended by high-ranking government officials, Members of Congress, mental health advocates, educators, medical professionals, veterans, faith leaders, local officials, and people living with mental health conditions and their family members, the Conference focused on two questions:

  • How can we reduce the social misperceptions associated with mental health conditions?
  • How can we support people with mental health conditions to get help?

 

“Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence rather than seeking help, and we need to see it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same attitude when it comes to their mental health.”
–President Barack Obama

Read More