by Peter Derosa
With one in every four individuals in the United States suffering from a diagnosable mental illness, we can assume that nearly everyone is impacted by mental illness. Mental illness is an illness. It affects the rich and poor, people with and without formal educations, men and women, people of all races, religions and ethnicities, and it is a world-wide health issue. But the lingering stigma associated with mental illness inhibits people from talking about their experiences, or even getting treatment.
This is changing, in part thanks to our brave citizen soldiers who are increasingly open about seeking help for the traumas they bring home from their combat experiences. Thankfully, their access to care is improving. For example, all of Natchaug Hospital’s programs can now accept Tri-Care Insurance.
Insurance coverage inequities between mental illnesses and other illnesses are largely a thing of the past: a credit to the dedication and hard work of our elected officials for their passage of the Wellstone-Domenici Parity Act, which became law in January 2010, and for the many provisions respecting people with mental illness that were included in the March 2010 Health Care Reform.
Treatment options for schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, post traumatic stress and other illnesses have dramatically changed in recent years. New therapy techniques and new medications are helping people manage their mental illnesses, keep their jobs, stay in school, and live independent, meaningful lives.
May is a great time to learn more about mental illness. Understand that mental illness is just that, an illness that one may have. This illness does not need to define the entire person, just as a medical condition does not have to define us.
If you think you or someone you care about may have a mental illness, get help. Treatment works – recovery is possible. In fact, treatment outcomes for mental illness are better than for many other diseases.