Does anyone still doubt that we need payment parity for mental health services?
In October the government reported that about 10 percent of us seriously freak out from time to time. More formally stated: in its annual assessment of the nation’s mental health, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that approximately 10 percent of American adults experienced “psychological distress” in 2007. Remember, that was BEFORE the financial meltdown.
Ignoring mental health problems has insidious, intergenerational consequences: research supports that idea pretty well. Still, we've struggled with how to PAY for mental health treatment.
Well, good news: last year, Congress passed a mental-health parity law that requires commercial insurers to cover mental and physical ailments equally. And last week the president signed the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act into law – with its provisions for mental health services intact.
Hooray! These two actions will help us begin to break the cycle.
How strongly do I feel about children's mental health? After Hurricane Katrina I understood that the survivors’ material needs were enormous. But my fear for the emotional and psychological needs of the children who suffered that trauma was greater. I deferred when asked to contribute to Red Cross. Instead, my (barely significant) contribution went to an organization that helps traumatized children. (In Texas, by the way, where many refugees landed and spending for children’s mental health care is ranked 49th in the country).
I'm the daughter of a mental health professional so call me biased, but I believe our country’s mental health is not in great shape. And I’m elated that after years of Bush vetos, the federal SCHIP program will soon cover mental health for children. At last, a step in the right direction!