Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. However, mental health awareness should not be limited to strictly one week of dialogue and information. Mental illness can be a life threatening disease if untreated and the signs and symptoms are often complicated. While more people have started to acknowledge the severity of mental illnesses especially as this nation mourns the loss of comedian Robin Williams, accessing healthcare for the treatment of a mental illness is still challenging.
Why don’t people with a mental illness seek treatment?
- Individuals fear that their friends, family, and employers will find out they are seeking help
- The cost of seeking help can be expensive
- Many people who seek help fear that they won’t be able to obtain life insurance later on
Currently, there is no legislation in place to help mental health patients receive proper treatment. MentalHealth.gov is a site that was built by the government to help patients get treatment, learn information about mental health conditions and improve mental healthcare in America. However, their lack of decisions regarding ongoing treatment and programs to help these individuals is something Americans need to become more aware of. Americans have the power to vote on these issues and help get mental health treatment on ballots during election years.
This year is even more important to discuss how we plan to continue helping patients with mental illnesses because last year the Affordable Care Act declared mental health treatment an “essential benefit” for Americans participating in Medicaid. This declaration lead to an influx of patients seeking help there aren’t enough doctors eligible to treat them. Therefore, they want help but can’t get the help they need. Mental illness can be deadly so it’s important to get educated, become aware of the signs and symptoms, and learn how you can make a difference in helping mental health patients get help.