How the Federal Government Sequestration Impacts Mental Health Services

Care for Your Mind

Due to Congress’ stalemate in reducing the federal deficit, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration, are taking effect on federal government programs. Medicaid and Social Security are practically the only programs unaffected, and the Congress has begun scrambling to address the high-profile, high-impact cuts as they arise, such as providing relief for air traffic control. With spending being cut on a broad scale, what will sequestration mean in practical terms for people dealing with mental health conditions? Will the cuts affect you?

(For background information, read What is Sequestration? at USA.gov.)

The overriding concern about sequestration is that it has absolutely no precision: sequestration was designed to cut wide swaths through government, sparing no agency or program. This means that spending in every federal agency—from the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the FBI—and on every federal program—like the national parks, disaster relief, food safety inspection, and airport security—will be cut by 5 percent this year, and even more each year for the next nine years. And because of the delay in implementing sequestration, the cuts are more severe as reductions that would have been spread over 12 months are now crammed into 7 months instead.

(This interactive chart from the Washington Post provides estimates of the state-by-state impact of sequestration by category, based on White House estimates. Click on “Public Health” for the most relevant information.)

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Problem Accessing Health Care?

Of the 333 people who have responded to our survey to date, 64% shared that they have experienced challenges obtaining mental health treatment for themselves or a family member in the past two years.

How about you? Take the full survey or the quick poll below.

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Presidential Proclamation: Mental Health Awareness Month

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, so it seems the most fitting time for us to launch our conversation about finding solutions to the problems of our mental health care system. Currently, the U.S. government and the governments of the states are giving unprecedented attention to addressing mental health concerns. In this month and those to come, our Care for Your Mind community will strive to make policymakers understand the perspectives of, and challenges facing, individuals living with mental health conditions and their families. Your participation is invaluable.

It is our pleasu...

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Access to Care

Ron ManderscheidRon Manderscheid, Ph.D.
Executive Director, NACBHDD

If you or a family member needed care today for a mental health or substance use condition, would you be able to get it? Mental health and substance use conditions, like depression or inappropriate use of alcohol, are real, treatable health problems. As with other health problems (like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease), people with mental or substance use conditions can lead healthy, productive lives when the health problem is diagnosed and treated. When identified and treated early, the severity and impact of these health issues, including damaging consequences to both the person being treated and her or his family, can be reduced. That’s why the process of getting care—what we refer to as gaining access—is critically important.

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Welcome to Care for Your Mind

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA) welcome you to Care for Your Mind!

The Care for Your Mind blog is ours—a place where all of us affected by the mental health care system can spark conversation among our peers, advocates, and thought leaders about the strengths and weaknesses of current mental health care practices and policies in the United States.

What’s vital to Care for Your Mind is you. The blog features regular contributions from a diverse group of policy makers, mental health experts, medical professionals, and health car...

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