President Obama has reaffirmed his commitment to mental health care by declaring May 2014 as Mental Health Awareness Month. He sheds light on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it has made it possible for otherwise uninsured or under-insured Americans to gain health insurance that covers mental health issues. He pointed out that Obamacare has created change and that even those with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied for mental health care benefits.
Obamacare has brought many changes to the healthcare system, some good and some bad. One thing it has done though is forced insurers to cover mental health benfits. Community centers are expanding their mental health services to accommodate this.
Particular attention is being given to the youth who experience mental health problems. Obama has dedicated extra money to train teachers and health care professionals to identify these issues and help kids who may be experiencing depression, anxiety of bipolar disorder.
The other part of this entails preventative methods, such as depression health screening. In fact, an Oregon experiment was a randomized trial that was published in May, 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine that confirmed the benefits of these screenings. More than half of the participants in the study, 6,387 people, were enrolled in Medicaid, while the remaining 5, 842 participants were not. Researchers measured a variety of health outcomes, but found that participants did not benefit in terms of high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes. They did, however, benefit from the depression health screenings and it helped to address mental health problems.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as 23 million Americans are facing depression, bipolar disease or schizophrenia. The idea of a National Mental Health Month was started back in 1949, but the stigma still exists. In a press release from the White House, President Obama declared a re-commitment to mental health care. He hopes to fight the stigma associate with mental health disorders so people will actually get the help they need.
It is this stigma that often prevents people from getting the medical care that they need. People tend to feel ashamed that they have feelings of depression or are plagued with anxiety. What everyone needs to realize though, is that it is just as necessary to get treatment for these concerns as it is for heart problems or cancer, and the sooner one gets medical attention, the easier it is to treat.
While Obamacare has received much criticism and may not be beneficial in all aspects, it does appear to be helpful in terms of mental health. It is still not a perfect system, however. Some people have found a lack of providers to address their mental healthcare needs, while others have been limited to just 10 sessions, which is not adequate for long-term mental health problems.
As the moth progresses, specific days in May are dedicated to a particular area of awareness. May 7 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, May 21 is Military and Veteran Mental Health Awareness Day and May 29 is LGBT Family Acceptance and Youth Suicide Prevention Day.
By Tracy Rose