Wednesday, January 16, 2013

President Obama: “We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care as easy as access to a gun”

This is but a small part of President Obama's Plan to Protect our Children & Communities, which was announced this morning. I'm including it because mental health is one of my blog's key issues. And tackling the many gun parts of the document is too much to bear. Read more here.  
Though the vast majority of Americans with a mental illness are not violent, we need to do more to identify mental health issues early and help individuals get the treatment they need before dangerous situations develop. As President Obama has said, “We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care as easy as access to a gun.” 
• MAKE SURE STUDENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS GET TREATMENT FOR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES: Three quarters of mental illnesses appear by the age of 24, yet less than half of children with diagnosable mental health problems receive treatment. To increase access to mental health services for young people, we should: o Provide “Mental Health First Aid” training to help teachers and staff recognize signs of mental illness in young people and refer them to treatment. o Support young adults ages 16 to 25, who have the highest rates of mental illness but are the least likely to seek help, by giving incentives to help states develop innovative approaches. o Help break the cycle of violence in schools facing pervasive violence with a new, targeted initiative to provide their students with needed services like counseling. o Train 5,000 more social workers, counselors, and psychologists, with a focus on those serving students and young adults. 
• ENSURE COVERAGE OF MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT: The Affordable Care Act is the largest step to increase access to mental health services in a generation, providing health coverage for 30 million Americans, including 6 to 10 million people with mental illness. The Administration will take executive actions to ensure that millions of newly covered Americans, and millions more who already have health insurance, get quality mental health coverage by: o Finalizing regulations to require insurance plans to cover mental health benefits like medical and surgical benefits. o Ensuring Medicaid is meeting its obligation to cover mental health equally.

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