Poor accessibility to mental health care is an increasing issue. Major causes include affordability and stigma around mental health treatments and services. Without proper care, mental health struggles have many negative implications that affect everyday life. One possible solution proposes that mental health care be incorporated with primary health care. This can be completed under state regulated insurances and funded and run by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This solution will lower uninsured medical payments for mental health treatments, reduce stigma and reacher a greater number of people.
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With mental health awareness making news headlines more frequently, Huff Posts states “more than 8.3 million Americans suffer from a serious mental health issue” (Holmes 1). The World Health Organization says “the pandemic has triggered a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide” (Martin 1). For many people, accessing the proper care for mental health treatment is difficult.
Leading causes of inability to access care include affordability and stigma. Oftentimes mental health care can be costly. Prior to the ACA, health insurance plans were not required to cover mental health treatments (Porretta 1). In many scenarios, people in need of psychological help were denied treatment because they could not afford to pay the bills on their own. Another reason people are unable to access treatment is because of the fear of being judged or stigmatized as “bad people”. This social barrier often stands in the way of people reaching out for the help they need. Experiences of stigma have been shown to cause “internalized self-judgment in individuals who experience symptomatology” and as a society, this needs improvement. Natalie Wong, a researcher in the medical field shares results from her study among individuals in China who went as far as to “associate treatment-seeking with personal failure” (2). Without the proper resources, mental health struggles become more common. Mental health issues may contribute to learning difficulties along with behavioral issues, and strained family, peer, and social relationships (Jones 26). Many negative implications are associated with mental illness that will only become worse if not treated, making the push for easy access much needed.
The proposed solution of incorporating mental health care into primary care through state regulated insurances under the ACA targets the main root causes. This new solution lowers out of pocket medical payments, reduces stigma, and reaches a greater number of people. Those already receiving primary care under government based insurance such as medicaid or medicare will have an easier time accessing these services. The hope is to place more citizens on adequate insurance, paid for by the government and provide coverage for those who were unable to afford care. Research proves that individuals who report more positive attitudes toward mental health care are “more likely to seek treatment for psychological concerns”. By making mental health care more accessible through primary care sources, it becomes more normalized. Primary care is not associated with negative connotations and judgment, which encourages patients to ask for help without the burden of mental health stigma. With this solution people will be able to access the treatment closer to their homes in order to “maintain their support systems and remain integrated and active in the community” (Funk et al 1). This way, more people will engage in the services provided, reaching a larger audience.
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