Mental Health Issues in Adults
Mental health is defined in Healthy People 2020 as encompassing the ability to engage in productive activities and fulfilling relationships with other people, to adapt to change and to cope with adversity (USDHHS, 2010). In the United States nearly 57.7 Million adults (18 years and above) suffer from a mental health disorder in a given year and 6% of the population suffers from a serious mental illness (NIMH, 2010). The purpose of this paper is to look into the perspective of how best one can advocate for mental health disorder as a population health issue through various strategies including policy change. Population Health Issue and Population Affected
Mental health disorders have no boundaries and affect all people without regard to gender, race or age. They are the leading cause of disability in North America (WHO, 2008b). Despite the staggering number of people with mental health disorders, only 25% obtain help in any part of the health care system, while the majority receives no specialty mental health care. It is unrealistic to have a goal of “decreasing the prevalence of mental illness” because mental illness by its nature is a complex bio psychosocial disorder and any stressful event in life may be the cause of mental health problem and everyone is susceptible to it. According to Byers et al. the number of people age 55 and above suffering from mood or anxiety disorders has been increasing for the last two decades and it has a trend of doubling itself every five years. This alarming trend will soon become a public health crisis as a large number of “baby boomer” generation ages. The increasing number of returning veterans is also another dimension to this crisis. A study conducted by RAND Corporation found that nearly twenty percent of servicemen and women returning from recent wars have some form of mental health condition (RAND, 2008). The estimated societal costs for the veterans based on prevalence and two years of treatment is estimated between $4.0 to 6.2 million. Advocacy Programs Researched in This Area
The impact of mental illness on overall health and productivity in the US is often under recognized. There are many reasons for this under recognition; mainly the misunderstanding of the illness itself, lack of resources, stigma, or lack of social support can be cited. The World Health Organization (WHO) in recognition of the need for adequate resources launched a mental health initiative called Mental Health Global Action Program (mhGAP) to raise awareness and address a variety unmet needs. Other than WHO, consumer advocacy groups such as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) deserve the credit for the advances made in the treatment of mental illness. The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Act otherwise known as the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) was signed into law in 2008. The main goal of this Act is to eliminate unequal health treatment practice that has kept individuals from seeking mental health care for a long time. The way this law works it that it does not force group health plans to cover mental health benefits, however when plans cover mental health, it requires that they provide full and equal benefit in a way that is no more restrictive than all other medical and surgical procedures covered by the plan. Effective Attributes of the Programs
MHPAEA has had quite an impact on the population since it went in effect in 2010. For starter, the statute does not require for employers to buy mental health benefits and employers with less than 50 employees are exempt of this statute. The second important point is that MHPAEA stipulates that any State law that provides greater protections than MHPAEA may continue to remain in effect. The last stipulation is great because it stops the Federal law (MHPAEA) from overriding a State law assuming that it protects its constituents better.
Unfortunately some employers have...
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