For centuries mental health issues have been a huge target of negative stigma due to a lack of understanding and acceptance in our communities. Even to this day it has been a challenge for many people to obtain or maintain proper insurance in order to get help with a variety of mental health problems that continue to cause many challenges for a variety of individuals in society today. The percentages of people who are homeless with mental illness are staggering! It is said around 50% homeless people suffer from some form of mental illness, about 25% percent of homeless individuals suffer from serious mental disorders (such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder), and around 40% or higher homeless individuals have substance abuse problems according to ‘Mental and Physical Health,’ and the ‘National Alliance to End Homelessness’ (ICHARD ZWOLINSKI, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. ZWOLINSKI).
A new rule is now being implemented to help stop these trends with easier accessibility and affordability in order to make treatment of mental illnesses equal to any other physical illness in the clinical setting. It’s been five years since the passage of the law in 2008 from President George W. Bush that is supposed to establish equality of mental health and other medical treatments. Since Friday the Obama administration has announced the final rule on to how treatments are to be provided. The rule also states that co-pays are to be similar to any other medical treatment and that deductable and visit limits are not to be more restrictive in comparison as well.
It is said about 26% of Americans over 18 have a diagnosable mental disorder every year, according to NIMH, National Institute for Mental Health (USA Today). Of course insurance agencies are complaining that it will be too hard to compare psychological disorders to physical illnesses but mental health providers beg to differ on that one.
It does seem that if this new rule is used correctly it can help reduce mental health costs greatly, especially in cases when problems are caught early. Although the question to be asked is how smoothly this new rule will come into place as we have seen many problems arise in the new Affordable Health Care Act in recent days. Of course it will give people the chance to take better care of themselves, but due to such lingering stigma on mental health and the challenges that arise from them, this obviously will not be an easy path sadly. Although it is a step toward further awareness and education that so many people need to understand and accept.
By Tina Elliott