Mental Health America tagged posts

What’s the State of Your State’s Mental Health and Care?

Theresa Nguyen

Theresa Nguyen, LCSW, Vice President of Policy and Programs
Mental Health America

If you have a mental health problem and you are young – or you live in Nevada, Mississippi, or Alabama – chances are you are going to have, or have already faced, incredible difficulty getting the support you need.

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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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What’s Going on with National Mental
Health Reform?

Spurred to action by a number of mass shooting tragedies, various commissions in Washington were created to seek a solution to the pervasive problem of mass violence in our society. A call to reform the delivery of mental health care was a central component of that effort. As a result of this discussion, members of both the U.S. House and Senate drafted mental health reform legislation. Summaries of the two key bills follow, along with a glimpse at the positions of a couple of mental health advocacy groups.

Highlights of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (HR 2646)
This comprehensive bill, introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), joined by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) as the lead Democrat on the bill, includes provisions that cut a broad swath across mental health care, standards, funding, and practice:

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Disparity, Not Parity, Describes Mental Health Status and Access in America Today

Paul Gionfriddo
President Mental Health America

That’s the bottom line message in a recent report, entitled Parity or Disparity: The State of Mental Health in America 2015, released by Mental Health America (MHA).

But the good news is that there are plenty of things we can do to change that – if we’re willing to change the way we approach mental illnesses in general.

MHA produced this report because we aren’t satisfied with the narrowness of the policy debate we have been having. It has been too much about public safety and post-crisis intervention, leading to a focus on inappropriate, back end, post-crisis care. These interventions occur long after mental health concerns—if identified and treated early—could be eliminated or mitigated, avoiding crises and tragedies.

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It’s About Mental Health, America

Paul Gionfriddo
President and CEO, Mental Health America

I became President and CEO of Mental Health America on May 1, honored by the opportunity to work with so many wonderful advocates on behalf of people with concern for mental health. At Mental Health America, our goal is:

  • prevention for all
  • early identification and intervention for those at risk
  • integrated health and behavioral health services for those who need them, and
  • recovery as a goal

Changing the treatment paradigm
For too long, policymakers and some advocates have been mired in what I call Stage 4 thinking. They have accepted the largely false premise that mental health concerns and violence are intertwined. They have accepted “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.

But as I have said repeatedly, mental illnesses are the only chronic conditions that we treat this way. They are the only chronic conditions where, as a matter of public policy, we wait until Stage 4 to treat, and then often only through incarceration.

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How Will You Make Your Voice Heard in 2014?

bottleIn recent posts, guest editors, CFYM editors and our readers have shared their ideas about the status of access to quality mental health care in 2014. Will it be a year we look back on as a turning point in the fight for civil rights for people living with mood disorders?  Or will it will be a year that we give back some hard earned gains.

In recent posts, guest editors, CFYM editors and our readers have shared their ideas about the status of access to quality mental health care in 2014. Will it be a year we look back on as a turning point in the fight for civil rights for people living with mood disorders?  Or will it will be a year that we give back some hard earned gains.

There is much to be to keep our eye on in the coming year. During the winding days of Congress, before the holiday recess, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, H.R. 3717 was introduced. Many advocacy groups voiced their thoughts on this bill including Mental Health AmericaNational Alliance on Mental Illness, and the National Council for Behavioral Health, to name a few.

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Should We Screen Middle and High School Students for Mental Health Disorders?

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90% of youth who die by suicide suffer from a treatable mental illness. 

65% experience symptoms for a full year prior to their death.

When we identify kids at risk, we can save lives.

Over 10 years ago, President George Bush accepted The New Freedom Commission on Mental Health recommendation that the federal and state governments work to implement broader access for youth mental health screenings as a matter of public health.  While we are still waiting for federal assistance, local organizations are taking up the challenge and offering free mental health screenings to middle and high school age students. One of those organizations, Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI) has been quietly running a mental health screening program, Youth Screen, in Chicago-area schools since 2007.

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