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Mental Health Services Set to Improve Across the U.S.

Nurses doing medical checks
 

This week, as part of the Excellence in Mental Health Act, the House of Representatives passed a demonstration project that aims to reinforce quality care for individuals who have mental health issues, as well as expand access to mental health resources and services. The bipartisan proposal, which promises an increase in mental health centers, has yet to achieve a final passing vote in the Senate.

Across the United States, people and organizations are recognizing the gravity of mental health issues and the increasing necessity to address them, in part because of the mental health parity part of the Affordable Care Act. But as we wrote last week, the success of mental health services is dependent upon there being enough mental health care providers to ensure it. As USA Today reports, “The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover mental health as they would physical health, but insurance does little good if no one exists to provide the care.”

The report cites a County Health Rankings and Roadmaps study, which found that in some counties in the U.S., there is only one therapist for every 55,989 people. By comparison, other counties have one mental health care provider per 72 people. Newsweek’s coverage of the study, which assessed levels of mental health based on 29 factors, included a map of what researchers conclude are the healthiest counties.

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While this shines a light on some areas that may need more assistance providing mental health care than others, officials in those regions generally seem proactive in trying to boost funding or provide realistic, accessible alternatives. Some of these efforts might seem like specific and small-scale movements, but they are indicative of a growing awareness of mental health issues and treatment needs.

As Public Funding Dwindles, Metro New Orleans’ Safety Net for Mentally Ill Shrinks

For instance, the Times-Picayune reports that beds are scarce for homeless people with mental health issues in Louisiana, and many indigent people don’t have access to Medicaid-funded resources. So other programs, like the state-funded Metropolitan Human Services District, have put more emphasis on community-based care available to all. District director Calvin Johnson says, “The theory is if you provide robust community-based care it reduces the need for hospitals. The problem … is that we need to educate the community about what is available.”

Forum to Brainstorm for Ways to Help the Mentally Ill

Others are focusing efforts on keeping individuals with mental health issues out of jail—both preemptively and before being released. According to the Sun Sentinel, Florida’s Palm Beach County Mental Health Association hopes to identify people with mental health issues who may be at risk for committing unlawful acts, and then provide care to keep them out of jail. They would also like to start providing resources to transition people out of jail through a small experimental program; however, the organization NAMI of Palm Beach County is pessimistic that Florida legislators will allot the $575 thousand over three years that it would take to transition 12 people into residential programs.

Mark Herring Gets Details on Roanoke Mental Health Program

A similar program in Roanoke, VA has gotten the go-ahead: 15 to 20 inmates at Roanoke City Jail will have one-on-one meetings with mental health counselors before their release. These voluntary meetings will include plans for housing, follow-up treatment, and other general support for real-world scenarios. Both Virginia and Florida describe the influx of inmates with mental health issues as a “revolving door”.

Google Is Running a Century-Long Study to Figure out How People Work

Perhaps you’ve heard that working at Google is pretty comfy: great benefits, good food, and wonderful hours are just a few of the laudable perks of working at Google. It turns out there’s more to that than simply wanting to make people happy—Google conducts extensive in-depth research to foster a productive work environment. Two years into a study on Google’s own employees, they have found that staff members tend to take their work home with them, causing stress and anxiety after hours. Google has plans to continue the study with various questionnaires for a century.

Banker Suicides Spark Concerns over Mental Health of Finance Professionals

Two London professionals in the banking sector committed suicide in January of this year, which has instigated a look into the “aggressive, hardworking culture” of the finance industry. Several initiatives to improve well-being in workers have been introduced, and since realizing the scale of stress in the banking culture, banks are starting to take a closer look at improving mental health.

Malaysia Flight 370: Pilots’ Mental Health a Concern Amid Jet Mystery

While most airlines, including Malaysia Airlines, have standardized mental health tests for pilots as part of the certification process, most airlines in the US rarely do follow-up exams or check back in with pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration requires pilots to pass a physical exam every six months, but there is no such requisite periodic mental exam. This raises questions, in light of the disappearance and mystery of Flight 370, about whether pilots should be re-examined, and what those tests would entail.

Jump in Autism Cases May Not Mean It’s More Prevalent

Why would a community in New Jersey show that for every 45 children, 1 has autism, while Alabama reports numbers of 1 in 175? The Centers for Disease Control believe it has more to do with the way some communities research and identify autism spectrum. The CDC reports that this is getting more accurate all the time—but far from reducing diagnoses, an anthropologist at George Washington University believes the real numbers of people with autism could be twice as high as they are now.

Conscious Uncoupling

For days now, the Internet has buzzed about the separation of musician Chris Martin and actress Gwyneth Paltrow, but it’s not just because the star couple has split—it’s how they split. Paltrow made the announcement on her website, Goop.com, simultaneously coining the term “conscious uncoupling” and reinforcing it with expert opinion from doctors—medical doctors—who explained conscious uncoupling through a mental health lens. The doctors explained that divorce rates are high not because humans are becoming more polyamorous by nature or because they don’t believe in marriage anymore, but because life expectancy is so high that the typical lifespan now leaves room for consecutive partnerships.

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Comments
  • jameson March 28th, 2014 at 2:47 PM #1

    Well it is about time that mental health improvements get the recognition that they deserve! This is one area of the health care field that has gone ignored for too long and the disparity has become greater and greater across the board. There have not been services readily available for those who need them the most and the underserved have continued to be underserved because we have just not made it much of a priority to fund the programs that they need to have access to. I hope that with more awareness will come better access and greater tools for improvement and education, because without these things, the cycle of disparity will only continue.

  • oliver March 28th, 2014 at 5:34 PM #2

    I am sorry to say this, But new Orleans does not need to do anything more to diminish its reputation in the US.
    Cutting access to mental health services is not going to help them at all.

  • jax March 29th, 2014 at 5:09 AM #3

    why is it that there always seems to be the money to help with things like, oh say military tanks, but never something that could actually do good right here at home, like mental health residential programs and drug abuse programs for inmates transitioning out of jail? Things that make you go hmmm…

  • Adrienne March 29th, 2014 at 6:40 AM #4

    I will be so interested to find out what actually happened with this Malaysian airplane that was lost. I want to know was it something with the pilots or was it a case that something with the plane that went terribly wrong. I think that all of us who fly a lot want to know because you always want to think that you are entrusting yourself to people who are rational and sane but in cases where are just these huge mysteries you never can tell what could happen in the air or who could be at the controls. It is very scary to actually contemplate too much.

  • angie March 30th, 2014 at 9:22 AM #5

    Blech on Gwyneth and Chris Martin-
    why can’t they just be like the rest of us and admit that the marriage failed and they are getting a divorce?
    Why does everything have to be so high and mighty with her?

  • donald H March 30th, 2014 at 12:30 PM #6

    And I had always heard that those in the dental field were at high risk for suicide, and I never quite could arap my head around that. Whta on earth could be all that stressful about dentistry? But the bankers and finance people? Yeah, I could see how these are people who could be seriously overworked and stressed, and just think they aren’t only worried about just their accounts they are worried about finances WORLDWIDE. Now that’s a headache I would never wish to endure, so try to wrap your head around that!

  • Melissa March 30th, 2014 at 2:16 PM #7

    What people seem to fail to realize is that there really are more mental health professionals to serve these individuals. But because Medicaid refuses to reimburse a professional counselor who is licensed to provide mental health services but does not hold a Ph.D. entire communities lack the resources necessary to treat them. There are bills sitting in the Senate right now which would remedy the situation but they have little or no chance of passing because of a lack of support.

  • larry March 30th, 2014 at 4:32 PM #8

    I am a little baffled by the whole autism thing overall and not just these numbers cited. Why is this something that seems so new? Like I knew no one who was diagnosed with this when my kids were small and now everywhere you go you hear about more and more children showing signs of it. Any real answers out there that make any sense?

  • PJ March 31st, 2014 at 2:37 PM #9

    What seems to get tougher and tougher about so many of our mental health issues is that we as the general public recognizes that these are big issues and they they are impacting us in big ways; but those with the ability actually do something about it? It’s as if they are going through life with blinders on and wither they are refusing to see what needs to be done or they refuse to see that they are the ones with the power to actually do something. I am not sure how much more they want to see that this is a cry of help from society that things need to change, the world is evolving and growing and with that needs to come a bigger acceptance and understanding of those who need help. Shouldn’t we do a little more to help those who may be unable to help themselves?

  • juniper April 1st, 2014 at 4:00 AM #10

    although some of these programs seem so small i guess sometimes you have to take small steps before you can begin to take giant leaps

  • Janie r April 2nd, 2014 at 9:56 AM #11

    I do actually hold out hope that the way we think about mental illness and the way that it is viewed in this country is changing for the better. No longer does it seem to be such the stigma that it once was and it least there are forums such as this where we are able to have open dialogue and discussions about research and developments in the field, and who knows when we may see or say something that could help not only ourselves but others who could be searching for some hope or for some answers. This is never going to be an easy topic to address because there is still so much misunderstanding and misinformation out there, but I do think that we are heading in the right direction.

  • lila April 3rd, 2014 at 4:31 PM #12

    where my parents live that would be a place where I wouldn’t think that there would be any kind of access to care if they needed it, thank goodness that they don’t. this is the sad part, that most of the towns like this where there will be people who could use a tounchstone like a good therapist that doens’t exist for them because all the good ones want to live somewhere where there is more of a chance for a greater client base and let’s face it, better chance for better paying patients too!

  • courtney April 4th, 2014 at 3:51 AM #13

    I get that from a scientific point of view you could say that because we live longer that perhaps we are not meant to live with one person for all of our lives and that this could leave room for more than one serious relationship or marriage.

    but for me personally those marriage vows are sacred and when I say for better or for worse I really want to mean it and I want it to last until death do us part, not until I find someone that I may like better.

    The grass is always going to look greener on the other side when you are unhappy but if you work hard to stay happy then maybe so many weeds won’t crop up in the relationship.

    But hey what do I know? I’m not married yet, I’m just giving my single girl commentary

  • kendra April 4th, 2014 at 3:56 PM #14

    The banking industry may say that they are looking at making a change but believe me, they are all about bringing in more business and making more money so I have a very hard time believing that this sector is going to change and make workers feel any more secure about their jobs. Especialyl when it has not nor will it ever be proven that the job stress even led to the suicides, that is all just conjecture I am sure.

  • Shara April 7th, 2014 at 4:41 PM #15

    Guess Google is not the most ideal place to work like they have always made it out like they are

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