TO: AndreaModica, Online Technical Writing Professor and To The Members of CongressCurrently Looking to Reform Healthcare FROM: VanessaKouakou, Student at the University of Colorado Denver DATE: December11, 2017 SUBJECT: FinalProject- Addressing America’s Mental Health Crisis PurposeMentalhealth services and facilities should be made more accessible to a majority ofthe country’s population.
Summary In recent years, the topic of mentalhealth has been gaining interest. Diagnoses for mental illnesses includinganxiety and major depression are at an all time high and people are being moreopen about the state of their mental health than ever before. However,availability to receive treatment for these illnesses is still limited. Amajority of people with a diagnosed mental illness do not receive treatment dueto a range of factors including financial barriers, lack of access to propertreatment, a lack of insurance or insurance that will not cover treatment and ashortage of mental health care providers to name a few. For a long-term solution to this problem, legislationshould be proposed to lawmakers to provide funding for more facilities to bebuilt and widespread education about the importance of mental health to reducethe negative connotation associated with the issue. Other issues that should beaddressed include the way insurance companies cover mental health services andways to encourage interest in becoming a mental health care provider to ensurethat enough providers are available to provide adequate treatment and services.
Introduction To understand the severity of the mentalhealth problem we are facing in this country, it is important to understand theprevalence of these illnesses and the availability of resources. According tothe United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the NationalAlliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), roughly 1 in 5 (18-20%) adults in thiscountry have experienced some kind of mental health complication and 1 in 25 (4%)have a diagnosed “serious” mental illness. Disorders that fall under theserious category include, but are not limited to, schizophrenia, bipolardisorders, major depressive disorders, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsivedisorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the eating disordersanorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa (BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, 2017).
Itis also known that many people that are currently homeless or in prison havehad a history of mental illness (Mental Health by the Numbers).Regardingthe availability of resources, it should be mentioned that healthcare reformand expansion has increased access to mental health care assistance due to thenumber of uninsured individuals greatly decreasing. Nevertheless, a majority ofpeople that need treatment(s) still do not receive it. There are many morebarriers to receiving necessary treatment besides lack of insurance. Research Results Informationwas collected from a variety of reputable sources to provide more detailedfacts and statistics regarding the problem. · Statistics as of 2017:Mental Health America (MHA) has recentlyreleased their annual comprehensive report “The State of Mental Health inAmerica.” The report lists the key findings and statistics regarding theprevalence of mental illness, availability of resources and any changes worthyof being noted that have occurred since the last report was released. Thisparticular report, written by MHA’s Vice President of policy and programsTheresa Nguyen and colleagues, was released in November 2017 and contains someof the most up-to-date information about mental health care in the country.
According to the MHA report, over 43million Americans are currently suffering from a mental illness. This number isconsistent with the 1 in 5, or 18-20% of adults mentioned in the introductionof the report. Of this 43 million, roughly half also have a substance abuseproblem and 9.6 million (22.
3%) experience suicidal ideation. Only 44% ofpeople who are diagnosed with a mental illness receive necessary treatment and20% of these people still report having unfulfilled needs. Regarding youthsthat are experiencing mental health troubles, almost 8% had no access to theservices they needed through their private insurance (Nguyen et al).
70% ofyouth in the juvenile justice system have a mental condition (“Mental Health bythe Numbers”). In addition, the rates of severe depression amongst youths haveincreased 2.3%, from 5.9% of youths affected to 8.
3%, in the past five years(Nguyen et al). · Barriers to receiving treatmentPeople with a lower socioeconomic statusare less likely to have access to adequate mental health care services but areoften the people that need the most assistance. Services tend to be localizednear large cities, leaving people in rural areas with little to no access toproper treatment. (Saxena et al). Besidesobvious financial barriers, the social stigma of mental illnesses also stopspeople from receiving the treatment they may need.
A general lack ofunderstanding about mental illness leads people with them to be the victims ofdiscrimination and prejudice. People that have mental illnesses are known tohave trouble receiving and maintaining good jobs, quality housing, and qualityhealthcare. Some of the most common, but untrue, beliefs about people withmental illnesses claim they are people who should be feared and kept away fromothers, irresponsible and should have their decisions made for them, orchildlike and need to be cared for by others (Corrigan and Watson). There are also racial disparities when itcomes to receiving treatment. White Americans are the only racial group ofpeople where a majority of those diagnosed with a mental illness receivetreatment.
They are also the only racial group that has seen a significantincrease in mental health treatment received since the Affordable Care Act wasimplemented. For African-Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans,the percentage of people that received mental health care either increased butnot significantly or did not increase at all. While The Affordable Care Act didgreatly decrease the number of uninsured Americans, it failed to close theracial care gap (Luthra). The overall lack of health providers thatwork in mental health care is one of the most obvious problems regarding thisparticular situation. There are not enough health professionals to providetreatment for all the people that need it, especially in low-income and ruralareas. There is a high turnover rate for mental health care providers becauseof a lack of social support and low compensation for their work.
This leads toother negative effects such as many providers not taking insurance and makingtheir patients pay for care out of pocket. This lack of providers combined withthe fact that insurance may not cover treatment leaves sufferers of mentalillnesses less likely to receive treatment (Access to Care Data). References Works CitedCorrigan, Patrick W, and Amy C Watson. “Understanding the impactof stigma on people with mental illness.” World Psychiatry, MassonItaly, Feb.
“Factors Beyond Coverage Limit Mental HealthCare Access.” Kaiser Health News, 7 June 2016,khn.org/news/factors-beyond-coverage-limit-mental-health-care-access/.
“Mental Health by the Numbers.” NAMI: National Allianceon Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers.”Mental Health in America – Access to CareData.” Mental Health America, 17 Oct. 2016,www.mentalhealthamerica.
net/issues/mental-health-america-access-care-data.”Mental Health Myths and Facts.” Mental Health Myths andFacts | MentalHealth.
Gov, Department of Health and Human Services, 14 Mar.2013, www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/index.html.
Saxena, Shekhar, et al. “Resources for mental health: scarcity,inequity, and inefficiency.” The Lancet, Elsevier, 4 Sept. 2007,www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673607612392.
Completed Work The Affordable Care Act and theadditional expansion of Medicare and Medicaid have been a great help forincreasing mental health care access because the amount of uninsured Americansdropped to historic lows. However, with the potential of the ACA being repealedand financial cuts being made to Medicare and Medicaid, it is uncertain whetherthe progress made regarding access to care will be reversed. Future Work· To be included in the new healthcareplan: With the promise of a new healthcare reformplan, it is important that several issues are addressed. The new healthcareplan should ensure that mental health care services are still covered byinsurance companies so they are relatively affordable for most Americans.Pre-existing conditions, including mental illnesses, should not be a factor indetermining whether or not a person is given equal access to health insurance.Insurance companies should also not be allowed to give people a limit on howmuch they are allowed to spend a year before they lose coverage.Government funding, federal or state,should be provided for facilities to be built or updated in areas where accessto mental health care is limited such as rural and lower income areas.
Facilities should be occasionally evaluated to reduce discrimination based onrace, sexuality, and/or gender identity and to ensure they are giving patientsquality care. Funding should also be provided foreducational programs that not only attempt to reduce the widely believedmisconceptions about people that have mental illnesses but also encouragepeople to consider careers as mental health providers. This serves twopurposes- reducing the social stigma associated with being mentally ill andaddressing the shortage of mental health care providers. This would, in turn,lead to early intervention and immediate treatment for mental illness sufferersbecause they would not feel as ashamed to reach out and receive treatment andthere would actually be providers to provide that treatment.· CostUnfortunately,due to a multitude of changes being made to the national budget and deficit, itis almost impossible to come up with a specific budget for a plan like this.
There is currently no solidified budget plan to this reformed healthcare planthat is being proposed and even that would not be a good estimate because itplans on greatly cutting funding to healthcare and risks leaving millions ofAmericans uninsured. The plan as a whole, including more than just the health careportion, would likely cost over 100 billion dollars in taxpayer money to fund ayear. This estimate, which is likely too low, comes from the fact that theAffordable Care Act cost taxpayers 110 billion dollars in 2016 (Close).
Theplan will be expensive regardless of mental health reform but Americans shouldbe able to see that their money is making a difference and this kind ofgovernment funded program would absolutely make a difference in the lives oftens of millions of people. ConclusionOverall, thisplan will show the millions of Americans currently suffering from a mentalillness that mental health is finally being taken as seriously as physicalhealth and get them the treatment they deserve by providing them with adequateresources. Please approve this plan or even consider parts of. Revision isalways an option. For inquiries regarding any part of this recommendation,please send all emails to [email protected]
Thank you in advancefor your consideration. I look forward to hearing your decision.