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20 October 2013 @ 03:24 am
Mental Health Care Still Not Equal to Physical Despite Parity Legislation  
Years ago I was trained to examine the connections between the personal and political. In light of my own struggle to get individual psychotherapy from my insurer--one I lost--I've been reading about the difficulty others have had in spite of the so-called parity legislation that was supposed to bring mental health care up to the standard of physical care.

For many years I followed that fight for parity as it wound its way at the state and federal levels. I would read about how people with anorexia couldn't get hospitalized until they were so ill their lives were threatened physically. I read about how they were merely stabilized and then released. Let's face it, sometimes mental health care is long term and expensive and given the stigma, lots of people have been willing to overlook these forms of discrimination. But finally we got "parity" which was supposed to fix all of these problems.

Unfortunately, we are going backwards if a suicidal person can't get weekly therapy to stay alive even with insurance. What if other insurers follow Kaiser Permanente's example and simply offer group therapy to save money? It's not best for everyone! I am aware that other people are being put on waiting lists or turned away. A friend got a diagnosis and treatment plan for ECT months ago from a prominent psychiatrist that has not been followed through on. As a society people wring their hands when someone shoots school children but when individuals quietly kill themselves it seems like that's all right. We don't want to talk about suicide. As they used to say in the beginning days of the AIDS epidemic, silence=death. Be sure to let your representatives know that mental health care is as important to you as that for physical illness and that you know there is still work to be done.

Related links
http://healthland.time.com/2012/12/20/americas-failing-mental-health-system-families-struggle-to-find-quality-care/ "The hurdles are even greater for non-drug therapies. Unlike for medications, there is no agency such as the Food and Drug Administration that sets minimum standards for safety and efficacy of talk and behavioral treatments, which makes evaluating different approaches for their ability to improve a specific condition more challenging."

50 Years of Hope And Struggle: http://www.crimeandjustice.org/councilinfo.cfm?pID=54

http://www.peoplesworld.org/my-struggle-for-mental-health-care-in-a-broken-system/ Mike Lado:"I used to work in direct support with individuals with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. I had no idea I would eventually fall into the same category."

Issues surrounding parity legislation: http://www.traumaticbraininjury.net/mental-health-parity-the-struggle-continues/ and http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/action/policy-issues-a-z/parity/parity-toolkit/parity-toolkit

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/fsmhpaea.html

ETA: Suicide epidemic: http://mag.newsweek.com/2013/05/22/why-suicide-has-become-and-epidemic-and-what-we-can-do-to-help.html