May 24, 2016
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month
Reflections on Mental Health and Parity
May is National Health Awareness Month and a time to celebrate the value of a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that is inclusive of behavioral health.
In this year alone, one-in-five or nearly 44 million Americans will experience a mental health disorder. We commemorate this month to honor the strength and resiliency of our friends, family and neighbors that live with mental illness and bring awareness to the stigma that society places upon them.
Although behavioral health parity laws are critical to equal protection and treatment options for people in need of behavioral health services, the real value is the public recognition and financial message that it sends to them. Consumers are worthy and deserving of the very same supports that our medical and insurance institutions offer to people in need of physical health services. It challenges the paradigm that has allowed for societal and institutional discrimination and shaming of people with mental health or substance use disorders, by maligning and marginalized them instead of providing services and treatment.
Yes, much has been achieved since the passage of the Community Mental Health Act of 1963, when America first committed itself to serving people living with mental illness in communities. It then took over thirty years before the nation renewed this conversation in a meaningful way and direction, with passage of the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) and later the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).
People should never be forced to make untenable choices between continuing with their treatment regimens once the allocated number of benefits has expired. No one should have to choose between sobriety and paying the bills or making rent versus the support of working with a trusted behavioral health practitioner.
We must not become complacent by our progress, because every day millions of people suffer in silence from unwarranted stigma wrongly associated with mental health and substance use disorders. These conversations about ending stigma this month are heartening but every day we must commit to the dignity and support for people in need
Coalition Highlights People, Programs and Communities at 1115 Waiver Hearing
Testimony by Jason Lippman
On May 4, 2016, Jason Lippman, Executive Vice President, testified on behalf of The Coalition at the Department of Health’s “Downstate Public Comment Day” on New York’s 1115 waiver program. During his remarks, Jason focused on strengthening communities and empowering people with greater access to health and behavioral health services where they live and work, as well as recruiting and maintaining a technically savvy behavioral health care workforce.
In The Coalition’s written comments, we dived in with greater detail about Medicaid redesign issues, including defining and measuring the value of behavioral health services provided in the community, which empower people to recovery in their own lives. The upcoming “Upstate Public Comment Day” will be held on July 12, 2016, in Albany at the Empire State Plaza, Meeting Room #6, from 10:30am - 3:30pm.
We invite you to continue reading the other news items from the Coalition this month.