Mental health advocates and professionally trained health care providers stopped at the White House today to discuss implementing better mental health coverage for Americans who struggle with affording help. The group spoke with President Obama directly about improving and providing further mental health assistance within the Affordable Care Act.
In June, Obama had raised mental health awareness after hosting the National Conference on Mental Health where topics and conversations about stigma and treatment came into play with a variety of health care psychologists and experts.
“Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence rather than seeking help,” said Obama in June.
According to studies, 45 million people in the U.S. struggle with mental illnesses ranging from anxiety, depression, bi-polar, and schizophrenia. As these disorders impact the lifestyles of many individuals, so does the ability to keep a job that provides the insurance needed for receiving help from trained mental health professionals. “The brain is a body part too; we just know less about it,” Obama noted, saying that no one should feel shame in seeking help.
“We’ve got to get rid of that embarrassment,” he said. “We’ve got to get rid of the shame.”
While the President and advocates voiced encouragement and backing for those with mental health needs, Obama promised that the Affordable Care Act will improve American’s insurance plans to aid in seeking affordable help.
The Affordable Care Act is also improving further mental health assistance coverage for 63 million Americans, as well as providing adults with free mental health screenings. Children, too, will be given free behavioral assessments. State based initiatives will allow for the construction and development of ways to further assist young adults. Starting in 2014, insurance plans will also not be able to refuse coverage to someone with a pre-existing condition. The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget proposal will be investing in this mental health focus by helping teachers and adults recognize evidence of a mental illness in students ranging from ages 16 to 25 as well as additionally providing training to 5,000 mental health professionals.
“[This] will be tremendously helpful,” said president of Mental Health Centers of Illinois, Janice Gambach. “[Those who struggle with their mental health throughout the U.S.] have been so disenfranchised.”
Mental health spending dropped 14 percent during the fiscal 2009 and 2013 years, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the increased funding will financially help future mental health clients and providers.
In addition to these mental health benefits, The Affordable Care Act will improve preventive services for 71 million privately insured people, while young adults have gained insurance from their parents’ coverage plans until they turn 26. Also to be noted, over 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved $7 billion in prescription drug discounts.
Those not covered by insurance can visit healthcare.gov and compare a number of private and affordable insurance options. The Obama administration says they are committed to providing Americans with mental health assistance by improving The Affordable Care Act and thus improving the lives and minds of individuals in need.
Written by Annie Elizabeth Martin