Do the Right Thing

Spirit, science, and health

Mental Health Care: Now Easier and Cheaper

Passage of the Mental Health Parity law is good news for you and those you love.

It just got a lot easier (and cheaper) for you and your loved ones to get professional help for psychological, behavioral, and relationship concerns and troubles yet less than 5% of the public know about it.

The recent passage of the long awaited Mental Health Parity law requires mental and behavioral health insurance coverage to be equal to (or even better) than insurance coverage for physical health with no annual limits or higher co-pays or deductibles for mental or behavioral health or substance abuse treatment services. Wow! This means that treatment for depression, anxiety, alcohol dependence, attention deficit hyperactivity, and so forth now get the same kind of insurance coverage and acceptance as cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, and so forth. Although almost 30% of the American population has received mental health treatment from a professional therapist only 4% of the population know anything about this new law.

Quality empirical research has indicated over the past several decades that physical disorders cannot be separated from mental health disorders. Co-morbidity (i.e., having more than one diagnosis or disorder at a time) is much more the norm than the exception. Anxiety, depression, and substance abuse are the big three psychological disorders and they so often co-vary with medical problems. Since the 1970’s those in the know have advocated a biopsychosocial rather than just a biomedical approach to health and disease that suggests that biological, psychological, and social factors all interact to create situations that result in health and disease. The mind and body don’t live in separate arenas but interact with each other. And there are plenty of quality research studies that support this perspective.

Medicine has been reluctant to accept this research over the years but can do so no longer. In fact the metical school entrance examination (the MCAT) will now include 30% of their questions on the topic of behavioral and psychological health starting next year. Better late than never I say.

So, if you or someone you care about could use some professional help with their emotions, relationships, behaviors, and so forth to live a fuller, happier, and healthier life they can do so more easily and at lower cost than ever before. The Mental Health Partity law is a godsend that is needed for so many who struggle trying to manage and cope with the challenges of life. Plus it makes clear that the physical and mental health of our society are equally important and interactive. 

For further details about the new law see:  http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/parity-law-resources.aspx

So, what do you think?  Need a referral? 

Check out my web site at www.scu.edu/tplante and follow me on Twitter @ThomasPlante

Copyright 2014 Thomas G. Plante, PhD, ABPP

Thomas Plante, PhD, ABPP, is the Augustin Cardinal Bea, SJ University Professor at Santa Clara University and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University.

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