Category Care for Your Mind

Mental Health Research Is Stagnant. Here’s Why.

Mark Rasenick

Mark Rasenick, Ph.D., University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine

Care for Your Mind acknowledges and appreciates the collaboration of the National Network of Depression Centers and the American Brain Coalition in developing this post.

This is a wildly exciting time for cancer research. Work on new drugs is barreling ahead; thanks to years of hard work, scientists are starting to understand the biology of cancer better than ever. This knowledge is helping them develop personalized treatments that can potentially save millions of lives.

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Congress Strengthens Mental Health Parity

Carol Rickard

Carol Rickard, Community Education and Outreach
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

With the stroke of his pen on December 13, 2016, as he signed the 21st Century Cures Act, President Obama moved our nation one step closer to treating the whole person and ensuring equal access to health care for individuals living with a mental health condition. This law addresses a wide range of health issues, including a major emphasis on mental health issues. In signing the legislation, the President put into motion critical provisions to improve implementation and enforcement of the 2008 parity law.

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What Will Help Faith Communities Address Mental Health and Erase Stigma?

Families for Depression Awareness for Care for Your Mind

This post is another in the Care for Your Mind series on the role of faith, faith leaders, and faith communities in addressing mental health concerns.

Spiritual leaders and faith communities may be where people first turn when they are grappling with a mental health issue. This is often true in the military, according to Chaplain Dianna Watkins in the CFYM post, “Where Do Service Members Get Mental Health Support? (For Many, It’s Not Where You Think.)” Service members turn to their chaplains not only for matters of faith and spirituality, she commented, but for help in addressing their mental health concerns. Working with a chaplain, Ch Watkins noted, allows service members to work around barriers to accessing care. Further, unlike many of their civilian counterparts, military chaplains receive training not only in pastoral care and theology (all have attained a Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent), but also in mental health and suicide prevention.

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Culpable, or Merely Reprehensible? Driving Someone to Suicide

Families for Depression Awareness for Care for Your Mind

Should our society prosecute the people who encourage or drive another to take their own life? We may be seeing the maturation of criminal justice in recognizing the vulnerability of people suffering from depression or bipolar disorder, bringing criminal charges against those who are in some way a significant reason for a person’s suicide.

Two Recent Cases
In Massachusetts, a teenage girl is accused of actively encouraging her boyfriend to take his own life. Through a series of texts, Michelle Carter’s support, advice, and even goading may have pushed Conrad Roy III to his death by suicide. But to what extent does a text – even one as unconscionable as “It’s now or never” – contribute to a person’s decision to attempt suicide? Ms. Carter has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

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How We Can Support Veterans in Need of Mental Health Help

Care for Your Mind acknowledges and appreciates the collaboration of the National Network of Depression Centers in developing this series.

Sanjai Rao, M.D., VA Medical Center, San Diego

In my previous post, I addressed the challenging state of mental health care for our nation’s returning veterans and their increased risk of suicide. It’s crucial that we step up and ensure that mental health care is available to all former servicemen and women who need it. Now, I propose some possible solutions.

First, a disclaimer: although I work for the VA, I am writing this post as a private citizen, not a VA employee. The views expressed here are entirely my own and not in any way meant to be reflective of those of VA leadership.

Expanding the VA
In order to ensure the best possible outcomes for veterans in need, the VA needs to grow. With more resources, we can hire and train more mental health professionals, and therefore treat more patients. As I discussed earlier, the VA is by far the best place for veterans to get state-of-the art, evidence-based mental health care, but the VA system doesn’t have the capacity to treat everyone as quickly as they need. We do the best we can with what we have, but ultimately Congress regulates our size and budget. It’s up to our elected officials to provide the funding we need to increase our capacity.

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Who Is Making the Rules for Our Mental Health Care?

Tiffany Kaszuba

Tiffany Kaszuba, Vice President Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates
Manager to the Coalition for Health Funding

We advocate for our own medical care, we advocate to our senators and representatives for laws to improve mental health care, but are we reaching everyone who has a say in mental health care policy and delivery? In fact, most policy is developed, implemented, and enforced by regulatory agencies; there are at least a half-dozen federal agencies charged with aspects of addressing mental health.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explain the structure and roles of some of these agencies and their programs, including how they are funded. After all, if we are advocating for improvement in the mental health care system, we need to understand what works (and what doesn’t) and what it costs.

Public health is the science and art of protecting and promoting health in communities where we live, work, and learn. Federal investment in public health dates back to 1798 when Congress first authorized the Marine Hospital Service to deliver care to the merchant seamen who were disproportionately affected by disease. Today, the Public Health Service is led by the Office of the Secretary and comprised of 11 operating divisions—including the eight agencies authorized by the Public Health Service Act and three human services agencies.

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Even for Advocates, Getting Help for Depression Is Hard

Theresa Nguyen, Senior Director of Policy and Programming, Mental Health America 

Depression is a personal experience, different for every individual. One thing many people share, however, is difficulty accessing care. As someone who personally struggles with depression, I understand this challenge all too well. Depression can be a debilitating experience, and in addition to dealing with the painful symptoms of the illness, our healthcare system makes it extremely burdensome to seek help.

For a person paralyzed by fatigue, lack of motivation, sadness, or other common symptoms of depression, concentrating on navigating the many barriers to care can feel impossible. Recently released research confirms this unfortunate state of affairs, and addresses the access issues that I and millions of others have experienced firsthand.

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How Legislation Can Change the Face of Perinatal Mental Health

MA State Representative Ellen Story and U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Clark
with introductions by Dr. Nancy Byatt

Care for Your Mind acknowledges and appreciates the collaboration of the National Network of Depression Centers in developing this series.

Nancy Byatt: If we truly want to fix the state of perinatal mental health care in this country, a collaborative effort is essential. Achieving universal care will take the collective input of many different players – people with lived experience, providers, insurance companies, advocates, legislators, and more.

While every avenue of advancement is important, adopting legislation is a crucial piece of the puzzle; it’s the only way we can ensure pregnant and postpartum women get the care they need.

In Massachusetts, legislative efforts have been the foundation for the success of MCPAP for Moms. This is due in large part to MA Rep. Ellen Story, author of the 2010 Massachusetts Postpartum Depression legislation and co-chair of the Postpartum Depression (PPD) Commission. The Commission offers recommendations on PPD policy to the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Mental Health (MDPH and DMH), which in turn funds MCPAP for Moms. Representative Story has been instrumental in helping Massachusetts become a leader in the field of perinatal mental health care.

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