In America, mental health issues often carry a negative stigma that can interfere with a person’s ability to seek out and receive the appropriate treatment. Although many people view mental health issues as an individual problem, the unfortunate truth is that mental health conditions impact all of society. From the workplace to social relationships, the consequences can be dire when a person is unable to treat their mental health condition. While there is no easy answer, there are several things that can be done to fix mental health issues in America through a combination of understanding, education and financial support that will ensure everyone has access to mental health services.
Mental Health Issues in the Headlines
Recent headlines have demonstrated the serious consequences that can occur when individuals are left to cope alone with untreated mental illness. As more information comes available regarding the recent tragedy of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, it has been discovered that the shooter, Aaron Alexis, had a long history of untreated mental illness. This included serious symptoms such as paranoia, insomnia and hearing voices. Tragically, his mental health condition led to him taking the lives of many other people who had no idea of the hostility that was brewing. While there is no excuse for his actions, knowing that Alexis struggled with violent thoughts and hallucinations can explain his lack of self-control.
Reasons Why People Forgo Treatment
Sadly, many people decide to forgo treatment even when they suspect they have a mental health disorder. This can be due to one or a combination of reasons. In addition to concern regarding the negative view of society that pervades discussions of mental illness, many people who struggle to cope with a mental health condition cannot afford to seek treatment or follow up on filling their medicine prescriptions. According to a study conducted in 2011 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, being unable to afford the cost of treatment was the primary reason why people left their mental health condition unchecked.
Being financially unable to seek treatment may seem as though it is a problem only associated with the very poor; however, the issue of affordability goes much deeper than one’s bank account. The study also showed that those who did have insurance still could not always afford their treatment, and some people also struggled with finding a provider within their network. To compound the issue, many people with mental health issues on their medical record have found it virtually impossible to be accepted for a health insurance plan.
How the Affordable Care Act Plays a Role
After decades of negativity surrounding mental health treatment, it is finally becoming a recognized public health issue that is being addressed by federal, state and local levels of government and community involvement. One of the main ways that access to mental health services is being addressed is through the Affordable Care Act. Currently, health insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny a person a policy based upon pre-existing conditions. Additionally, 2014 heralds the beginning of an era when health insurance companies must also pay for mental health services.
As the nation moves forward toward a new beginning where health care coverage will be more accessible to everyone, it is important to stop the debate regarding the negative connotations of the plan. Instead, it is important to recognize the benefits that come with treating some of the most vulnerable members of the population who may be struggling with a mental health condition that with treatment, can be overcome so they can be a positive contributor to society as well as their families.
Derek is currently blogging for Aligned Signs, a site that helps connect like minded people by using astrology, psychology, and personality tests. When he is not blogging, he enjoys relaxing with his girlfriend and catching up on their favorite movies.