May-Mental Health Awareness Month


Education, Support, and Advocacy

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and an important time for disseminating information, support, and resources to my clients and readers.  It is estimated that one in five individuals suffers from some type of mental health issue.  This blog will discuss advocacy and mental health reform efforts, decreasing the stigmatization of mental illness, and taking a stand to take action even if it means that you, yourself, struggle with some form of mental illness.

The Mental Health Parity Act was signed into law in September of 1996 by President Bill Clinton.  This piece of legislation required that annual limits on mental health benefits be no lower than dollar limits for medical or surgical benefits offered by health insurance or one’s group health plan.  Later, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 attempted to ensure that health insurance plans would have co-pays, deductibles, and treatment limitations that are no more restrictive than those requirements applied to medical/surgical benefits.  Therefore, insurance plan coverage for mental health and/or substance abuse disorders must be provided at parity (consistent with or equal to) in comparison to coverage for medical or surgical health conditions. On October 1, 2013, the Affordable Care Act went into effect, allowing Americans to enroll in the new health insurance marketplace.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is helping people understand how to enroll, particularly those who suffer from mental illness.

The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 is a bill currently before Congress to address the mental health crisis in America.  As many are aware, a large majority of our homeless and incarcerated population are those with serious mental health problems.  This bill will ensure that mental health programs are adequately serving those with mental health needs and increase access to mental health treatment for veterans, the homeless, women, and children. Show your support in this effort to be an advocate for mental health reform by writing to your senators and congressional leaders to pass the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016.  Tell our senators you want them to vote “yes” for mental health care reform legislation.  This will ultimately help to improve mental health services, make early identification and intervention a priority, and enforce federal parity for mental health services.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has been involved in a movement to de-stigmatize mental illness.  Each individual who reads this blog is encouraged to pledge to be #stigmafree.  I, myself, took this pledge a few months ago on the NAMI website.  If you spend time on social media, you can share your awareness (of de-stigmatization) through words of support and inspiration to those who continue to struggle with mental health concerns.  Reach out to those you may know who need a listening ear, word of encouragement, or simply a smile.  A positive word goes a long way.

Important Links:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-www.samosa.gov

National Alliance on Mental Illness- www.NAMI.org

HealthyPlace.com-Stand Up for Mental Health Campaign

Senator Bill Nelson-www.billnelson.senate.gov

Senator Marco Rubio-www.marcorubio.com

Inspirational Quotes:

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”-  Henry David Thoreau

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”-  Aristotle Onassis

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”-  Rabindranath Tagore

“When “I” is replaced by “We” even illness becomes wellness.”-  Shannon L. Alder

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”-  Sigmund Freud

“Deep in your wounds are seeds, waiting to grow beautiful flowers.”-  Niti Majethia

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”-  Healthyplace.com

Hope you have a wonderful May,

Linda Cook