The Mental Health Parity and Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) mandated that mental health conditions be treated with the same level of coverage as physical conditions. While Federal law clarified that insurers could no longer discriminate against patients with mental illness, no one mandated society to do the same.
Discrimination continues against people seeking care for mental health conditions.Kids feel insulted at the thought of therapy stressing “Thanks for making me feel like I have mental issues.” Even educated adults self-deprecate, “I’m seeing a therapist now, so that’s great.” Some argue, “I’m not taking that medication. Having to take a pill makes me feel like I’m crazy.”
In contrast, there is little hesitation towards seeking assistance for physical health. Parents quickly call the pediatrician when their child’s fever lingers or cough sounds poorly. Adults share with confidence benefits from working with a trainer at the gym. Those with blood pressure/cholesterol concerns or diabetes know taking medication will maintain their wellness.
The fact is we all have mental health. And just like our physical health, our mental health varies over time along a spectrum of heath-to-illness. There are times when the flu keeps us down, but with care we recover. And there are times when depression gets us down, but with support, we can overcome. Just like some physical health conditions are best managed with medication, for some mental health conditions, wellness is maintained with medication.
ONLY THE STIGMA IS CRAZY
It’s essential we stop the stigma, because the burden cannot be ignored.
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population). 1
- More than 1 out of 20 Americans 12 years of age and older reported current depression in 2005–2006.2
Frequent Mental Distress
Frequent mental distress is defined based on the response to the following quality of life question, ‘‘Now thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?’’ Frequent mental distress is identified as a report of 14 or more days of poor mental health in the past 30 days.
- 9.4% of U.S. adults experienced Frequent Mental Distress (FMD) for the combined periods 1993-2001 and 2003-2006.3
“The biggest obstacles in our lives are the barriers our mind creates.” –unknown
Call to Action: to raise awareness, to reduce stigma, to promote treatment resources for those with mental illness.
- Kessler RC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alonso J, Chatterji S, Lee S, Ormel J, Ustün TB, Wang PS. (2009) The global burden of mental disorders: an update from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics/burden.htm
- Pratt LA, Brody DJ. (2008) Depression in the United States household population, 2005–2006. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/data_stats/depression.htm
- Moriarty DG, Zack MM, Holt JB, Chapman DP, Safran MA. (2009) Geographic patterns of frequent mental distress: U.S. adults, 1993–2001 and 2003–2006. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics/burden.htm