Address mental health in reform legislation

Let’s talk about mental health care.

It’s part of the broader health care debate.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness agrees with President Obama that the time for health care reform is now.

Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects Democrats and Republicans alike. Men and women. The young and the old.

Too many parents are forced to confront “the sheer helplessness and terror” that comes when their children—at any age—become gravely ill.

That is the experience of individuals and families affected by serious mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. For those who have private health insurance, reform will prohibit loss of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, arbitrary caps on annual or lifetime coverage or excessive out-of-pocket expenses.  For mental health care, four issues also are important:

*Full parity of insurance coverage for mental illness and addictive disorders in all private and public health plans.

*Full integration of mental and physical health care, including early identification and intervention for mental illness in children and adolescents

 *Elimination of the prohibition against Medicaid dollars being used for inpatient psychiatric or substance abuse treatment—which leads to dumping people from hospitals into homeless shelters.

 *Improved data collection, outcomes measurement and accountability. Good numbers are essential to measure progress, failure or success and data collection in mental health care lags far behind.. Federal action must create a framework for state mental health care systems to develop comprehensive, uniform, meaningful data in order to move into the future.

NAMI calls on Congress to move forward.

Do not retreat. Do not stand still.
 
Do not forget that mental illness can strike anyone at any time

The time for action is now.

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