Care for Your Mind’s 2013 Best Of List: Mental Health Policy Advancements

It’s that time of year again when the “Best Lists” come out. The mission at CFYM is to facilitate discussion by sharing the views of experts in the community. In that spirit, we are summarizing the “Ten Best” list from the National Institute of Mental Health to create our own “Five Best List.” We want to hear from you. Read the post and tell us what you believe are the best advances in policy and advocacy during 2013.

Mental Health Advocacy Begins with Science

Director Thomas Insel of the National Institute of Mental Health makes the argument that science leads to better policy. We are encouraged that scientific advances shift the conversation towards more self-directed treatment plans. It is the empowerment of treatment ownership that fosters advocacy and ultimately leads to a life of thriving, not just surviving.  We’ve compiled our top five list below, with the corresponding NIMH rank in parenthesis.

5. (10 on the NIMH List):  “Nobel Prize—This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (and Lasker Award) recognized NIMH grantee Thomas Südhof for his discoveries of how neurotransmitters are released from the pre-synaptic terminal.”

This research includes better understanding on how neurons in the brain communicate. We don’t know where the research will lead, but better knowledge about how molecules translate bio-chemical messages, give us reason to hope for advances in treatment options.

4. (9 on the NIMH List): “Beyond Magic Bullets—Several important new trends emerged this year in non-pharmacological treatments, sometimes from pharmaceutical companies. In April, a Nature commentary that included authors from the pharmaceutical giant GSK described “electroceuticals,” heralding a new era in treatment development focusing on devices to deliver electric signals rather than drugs to alter the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain.”

Many peers have reported successful outcomes with this type treatment. We are encouraged that pharmaceuticals are exploring options outside of strict pharmacology protocols.

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Your Signature Can Help Protect Mental Health Programs

Advocates are actively seeking grassroots support to protect funding for programs that advance mental health recovery and civil rights protection. Care for Your Mind is forwarding “Action Alerts” from two different organizations on two different mental health care topics. We also encourage you to contact your representatives directly.You can obtain contact information for your representatives by entering the zip code of the location where you reside into a search program.


Below is information from the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery  

SAMHSA grants for stat...

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Beware: Your Mental Health Condition Could Interfere with Your Holiday Travel Plans

airportDo you have loved ones arriving from another country expecting entry into the United States? If they have a documented mental illness, they might want to think twice. Read a summary of an article from the New York Times describing the discrimination people have faced from the United States Customs and Border Protection.

Shameful Profiling of the Mentally Ill by Andrew Solomon was published December 7, 2013 in the New York Times. It describes the mental health discrimination that citizens from other countries face when entering the United States. Sharing several examples, Mr...

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Celebrating the 10-Year Anniversary of the Creation of Medicare Part D

Mary GrealyGrealy Mary Headshot-web
Healthcare Leadership Council

Over the past few months, debate over our nation’s healthcare system has consumed much of the air here in Washington and around the country. The government shutdown over the President’s healthcare law, and the continuing missteps we are seeing with the implementation of the website have catapulted the issue to the top of mind of many Americans. But regardless of the merits of the debate from either side, so much of the noise and rhetoric has been focused on what is wrong with our healthcare system that we often discard or overlook the elements and programs that are actually working.

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Will Medicare Cover Your Mental Health Care Needs?

old_happy_coupleAnnual enrollment for Medicare ends on December 7, 2013. There has been a lot written about the mental health parity final ruling and the ACA or Obamacare. It is important to note that these new regulations do not apply to Medicare. In order to maximize mental health care seniors, should look carefully at their supplemental policies.

To better help seniors navigate their options, we are reposting excerpts from several relevant posts from the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. (CMA) and providing links to this valuable information.

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Do Gratitude and Mental Health Go Together?

Food for Thought This Thanksgiving

As we approach Thanksgiving, all of us at CFYM offer our thanks to people who we have engaged with and have supported this unique advocacy blog. It was our vision when we launched the blog in May to provide a forum to bring peers, families, policy and legislative experts together to participate in dialogue around the issues that matter most to us – access to quality mental health care.

We have much to be thankful for this year, and in the spirit of what CFYM is all about, we’d like to share a sampling of messages from our expert contributors. Read below what they’re thankful for as they reflect on the holiday.

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Why Aren’t Those Who Need Mental Health Care Able to Receive it When Needed Most?

stockvault-locked99163Over and over again we hear of tragedies that might have been averted if only people had access to quality mental health care.  The Daily Beast does an excellent job of covering the latest such tragedy involving Gus Deeds stabbing his father, Virginia politician Creigh Deeds.  According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch Gus Deeds did receive a psychiatric evaluation on Monday, the day before the stabbing, but was release due to lack of a psychiatric bed across the entire western Virginia region.

In Tennessee the department of mental health is evaluating their budget for the next several years...

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Final Parity Ruling and Obamacare

healthinsurance2Cause for celebration or just one victory in a long-term battle

On November 8, 2013 the Obama administration released the final rule providing guidance on how health insurance plans should implement mental health parity. In short, the rule states that mental health coverage must be equitable to how insurance plans cover other physical conditions. Restrictions accessing care and reimbursement for services can no longer be different for mental health in relation to other health care services. Additionally the ACA, more popularly known as Obamacare, requires that mental health coverage be included as an essential health benefit for plans available through the market exchange.  In short, as of January 1, 2014 private, marketplace exchange and Medicaid Expansion plans must offer mental health care and it must be with parity.

Much has been written about the ruling. Most of it positive. Bloomberg BNA states advocates are praising the rule. The National Council applauds the ruling saying it is “a huge victory for people living with mental health needs and for the nation as a whole.

CFYM has covered the topic in past blogs and has provided instructions on how to fight for your coverage rights by challenging an insurance claim denial. Carol McDaid of the Parity Implementation Coalition posted on September 19 that now is the time to become an informed, empowered, and vocal consumer. There is much work still to be done to ensure the civil rights and protection of people living with a mental health condition when it comes to access, however.

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