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06 Mar

Affordable Care Act: Increasing access to mental health services

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During the Reagan years or shortly after, I was watching Donahue and the topic was mental health.  At the time, many of the mental health hospitals had been shut down and those that remained were only for the criminally insane.  The parents of a man, who killed their postman, were asked why he wasn’t in a mental hospital.  They said they tried to get him help, but they were told, as long as he wasn’t a danger to himself or to others, there wasn’t a way to admit him to a hospital.  The doctor, who told the parents this, also told them not to let the son come home.  He was too unstable.  The parents had asked the doctor what to do with him.  The doctor’s answer, “let him live on the street”…

I watched the show approximately 30 years ago, and it still sticks in my mind.  Has this country changed when it comes to mental health?

Some eye-opening facts about mental illness from the National Alliance of Mental Illness:

  • One in four adults - approximately 61.5 million Americans - experience mental illness in a given year. 1
  • One in 17 - about 13.6 million - live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. 1
  • Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. 1
  • Mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults ages 18 to 44. 1

In Florida, the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, also known as the “Baker Act”, allows a person to be held involuntarily for 72 hours for examination.  But is this an improvement? Have we increased the number of hospitals or facilities for the mentally ill, and/or are existing hospitals equipped to handle them?

  • From KOMOnews.com in Seattle, WA, “there are too many psychiatric patients in King County hospitals”.  The hospitals aren’t equipped to deal with the mentally ill. 2
  • Other areas around the country are opening new psychiatric facilities and hospitals:
    • Fort Worth, TX is opening two new psychiatric hospitals for a total of 108 beds. 3
    • Arlington, TX is doubling the capacity of an existing psychiatric hospital. 3
    • Raleigh, NC is building a 60-bed children’s psychiatric hospital slated to open in 2014. 4
    • Memphis, TN is building a 92-bed behavioral health facility to open in 2015. 5

Now with the Affordable Care Act, the 2014 Fiscal Year Budget includes a $205 million investment in programs to help identify mental health concern early, improve access to mental health services and support safer school environments.  Perhaps now we can get more people the help they need.

 

Mickey Lovingood is a Business Development Coordinator on our Healthcare Business Development Team. She has more than 15 years’ experience in customer relations and sales.

 

 

 

 

1National Alliance of Mental Illness - http://www.nami.org/factsheets/mentalillness_factsheet.pdf

2http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Psychiatric-patients-being-warehoused...

3http://fwbusinesspress55.1upprelaunch.com/main.asp?SectionID=14&SubSecti...

4http://www.hollyhillhospital.com/groundbreaking-launches-construction-of...

5http://www.reporterherald.com/business-top-stories/ci_25198430/psychiatr...

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