THE STATE OF MENTAL HEALTH IN AMERICA
A critical part of one’s overall wellness is mental health. Society is affected if one is mentally ill and does not receive the necessary care. One may have a hard time holding down a full-time job. A job with benefits such as insurance. The main goal after identification and intervention of mental health is recovery. Mental health is an illness that does not discriminate. Mental health disorders can strike anyone whether young or old, rich or poor and include disorders such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, ADD, ADHD and substance abuse (Content, C. 2018). One in five adults have a mental health condition. Mental illness is now one of our biggest social problems.
Advocates for mental health prevention services advocate for services, care and treatment for ALL of those who need it. Most Americans lack access to mental health care and they are left without mental health treatment. Treatment may not be sought if one does not have the funds available to pay for same. If one does not have insurance available one may not receive the necessary treatment. Without proper treatment one may not be able to hold down a full-time job. Without a job and the necessary income to provide a means of support one may become homeless. If one is left homeless one may resort to criminal activities. Those criminal activities can range from something as “minor” as shoplifting to something as “major” as dealing and/or using drugs. These criminal activities could possibly land one in jail and therefore the beginning of a cycle of a “career criminal.”
In 2010 President Barack Obama signed into law The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which requires that insurance plans offer “behavioral health” coverage including mental health, addiction and substance abuse help as an “essential health benefit.” (Fitzgerald, T. 2011).
One in five young people are affected with mental health problems and about two-thirds are not getting the help they need (National Institute of Health (US), 2007). Most people are afraid to admit that they have a “problem” especially if that problem is referred to as a “mental” problem.
The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 is a bipartisan effort aimed at reforming federal mental health policies and programs so that patients especially those with serious mental illness (SMI) have more access to evidence based care. The legislation seeks to improve the coordination and visibility of mental health services on the federal level by creating an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, who will be appointed by the President and will act as head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Rep. Tim Murphy (R.-Pa.), a child psychologist, and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D.-Texas, a former psychiatric nurse introduced this bill on December 12, 2013 in response to large numbers of high school profile mass shootings. The House voted 422-2 on July 6, 2016.
In March the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions passed its own health bill, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S,2680) introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). That legislative would among other efforts promote more research on severe mental illness (SMI) and work to implement evidence based practices to help prevent, diagnose, treat and recover from mental illness and substance abuse disorders. It would also create the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Services Prevention grant progress and establish an interdepartmental committee at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to better coordinate initiatives for people with SMI. (Sept, 2016 Vol 47 No 8).
In December 2016 the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Act (H.R.) and end of the year health care package of bills with many mental health substance abuse and criminal justice provisions taken from the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680), the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act (S. 2002) and the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act (S. 993). The passage of H.R. 34 marks a major first step toward reforming the mental health system in the Unites State. (www.psychiatry.org).
Position Statement 41: Early Identification of Mental Health Issues in Young People’s policy states that early identification, accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of mental health and substance use conditions can alleviate suffering for young people and their families dealing with behavioral health challenges (“The State of Mental Health in America.”). By diagnosing a problem early and treating that problem a young person is apt to recover quicker. It is important that a young person benefit from one’s education and not get lost in the classroom. To focus on graduation and becoming gainfully employed. To become a productive member of society and lead a meaningful and productive life.
Every American should have access to behavior health care and treatment as well as medical care. It is easier for one to go to the doctor for a sore throat and receive treatment same should be true for mental health disorders. A person should not be denied mental health treatment based on insurance not covering care and treatment for mental health conditions.
Regardless of the point at which an individual begins necessary services one should work towards promoting and creating the best possible outcome for each person. Recovery is possible for all people. With the right combination of support and services people living with mental health conditions can adapt to living a satisfying life and continue to live a life in an environment that places the individual at the center ad builds a support system that they want and need around them.
More time needs to be devoted to prevention, early identification and health and behavior health services that promote recovery and change. This is best for the individual. Most mental health illnesses begin during childhood and continue throughout one’s life. The longer a mental health disorder goes undetected the harder it become to treat.
H.R. 2646 authorizes funding for training programs to help Americans understand the signs and symptoms of mental illness and addictions along with strategies for deescalating a crisis and connecting individuals to appropriate treatment services. It also authorizes funding to train law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical services workers and other first responders to recognize and intervene with an individual in crisis.
The 2016 Mental Health Act will ensure evidence based science driven approaches to the care of persons suffering from substance abuse and mental illness. It will also ensure more lives are saved through the combating of suicide in communities and schools. In the workforce the mental health sector is to ensure that there are more professions trained to be of assistance. Strengthen the enforcement of the broader mental health parity law in such a way that health plans will now be accountable for the coverage that their customers purchase. Invest in early intervention programs to make sure that individuals receive proper mental health care when they solely need it. Invest resources to keep people suffering from poor mental health treatment and out of jail.
It is important to analyze the mental health policy which has been discussed in the paper in order to evaluate its legal and ethical implications. The major goal of the policy is to promote prevention for all, early identification for those at risk, integrated care and treatment for those who need it and recovery as the goal.
First let’s focus on prevention. An individual who is at risk of developing a mental disorder as evidenced by biological, psychological or social risk. Early detection to include interventions that reduce disability, enhance rehabilitation and prevent relapses and recurrence of the illness, promote positive mental health by increased psychological well-being, competence and resilience and by creating supported living conditions and environments.
An early diagnosis and effective treatment of mental health and substance use of conditions by an early age in young people one is more quickly to recover and benefit from the education, to develop positive relationships, to gain access to employment and to lead a more meaningful and productive life.
When mental health specialists and general medical care providers work together one is receiving integrated care and treatment and one’s physical needs as well as one’s mental health needs are being met.
The end result being recovery. Treatment and recovery are an ongoing process. This is not something that happens overnight. This will take time. The first step is getting healthy. Developing a necessary plan to improve one’s health and wellness. To live a self-directed life and strive to achieve one’s full potential.
Content, C. (2018, May 9). America has an overwhelming problem with mental health issues.
Elizabethan Star (TN). Available from NewsBank: https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/ document-view?p=AWNB;docref=news/16BCFA72A86D0790.
Fitzgerald, T. (2011). HealthCare Changes: What To Expect Through 2018. On March 30, 2010, President
Barack Obama signed into law the HealthCare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, supplementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and completing passage of an expansive healthcare reform package, RURAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS, (2) 34.
National Institutes of Health (US); Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. NIH Curriculum Supplement Series Internet. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health (US); 2007. Information about Mental Illness and the Brain. Available from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20369/.
“The State of Mental Health in America.” Mental Health America, 27 July 2018, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/statemental-health-america.