News & Announcements

Hearings to Focus on Implementation of Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

Posted: June 22, 2012

Implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) has been slow, but there are small signs of progress, according to a coalition that aims to ensure that the law is properly enforced. In conjunction with former Congressmen Patrick Kennedy and Jim Ramstad, the Parity Implementation Coalition is kicking off a series of hearings around the nation through the end of the year, to highlight problems patients are facing as they try to access addiction and mental health treatment. Speakers will also discuss where parity is increasing access to care. The first two hearings were in Michigan and Rhode Island. The next forum will take place on June 26 in Washington, D.C. Other hearings will take place in St. Paul, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Delray Beach, Florida. They are all open to the public.

“Anecdotally, we are hearing about increases in mental health and addiction coverage on the outpatient side,” says Carol McDaid, Co-Chair of the coalition. “We also are hearing that consumers are seeing lower copays for those services.” This is an encouraging sign, since lower copays mean more people will be able to afford treatment, she adds. However, the group is hearing a number of complaints about people not getting access to residential care, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment for addiction, according to McDaid.

MHPAEA is a federal law that requires insurance companies to treat mental illness and substance use disorders no differently than other medical conditions. The law applies to employer-sponsored health plans with 50 or more employees, and Medicaid managed care plans.

Read more on The Partnership at DrugFree.org. Learn more about the Parity Implementation Coalition. Check the complete schedule for the public hearings.



Providing Help for Foster Children’s Emotional Problems and the Need for Trauma Assessment

Posted: June 21, 2012

Over the past 30 years, about 18,000 children have crossed the threshold at CHRIS Kids, an Atlanta nonprofit that helps Georgia's mentally ill foster children. And so the organization's longtime CEO Kathy Colbenson can rattle off the numbers like machine-gun fire to make her case for why more needs to be done upfront to help emotionally disturbed kids. She knows, for instance, that 35 percent of children in foster care are getting Medicaid-paid mental health services nationally; that 50 percent of children in foster care ages 6 to 11 are getting mental health services; and 60 percent of those age 12 and over are getting it. Unfortunately, Colbenson said, that help often comes much too late or not at all. 

"The child welfare system should be doing a trauma assessment on every child that enters care," she said. Why? It would get kids the help they need on the front end, she said. Generally, Colbenson said, children who enter foster care have been neglected or physically or sexually abused. Add to that the fact that they are re-traumatized each time they change homes, and it's not surprising that the children who come to CHRIS Kids have emotional problems.

Child advocacy organizations have studied the issue. According to a Casey Family Programs study, youths who age out of foster care have twice the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder as veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. A 2012 report from Fostering Connections found nearly 30 percent had multiple criminal convictions and more than half had one or more incidences of homelessness.

At the end of the day, Colbenson said, CHRIS Kids' mission is to heal children, strengthen families and build community (the acronym stands for creativity, honor, respect, integrity and safety). "We are dedicated to unlocking the potential in each child and family so that they can become taxpaying, contributing citizens," she said. But to do that, Colbenson said, more needs to be done on the front end to assess children's mental health so that they get the help they really need. She said that her agency has been working with the Division of Family and Children Services on developing a policy on trauma assessments. Under current policy, children entering the system are given social and psychological assessments, but neither screens for trauma.

Colbenson said that three decades ago, when she joined CHRIS Kids, the children might suffer from depression or bipolar disorder. Today, they come to her with multiple mental health issues. "These kids have suffered so much trauma, the older they get, the more it takes to help get them on the right track," she said. But she agrees with Dr. Adolph Casal, practice director of psychiatry at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta: There is a great deal of hope. "I've seen a remarkable resilience in our kids," she said. "We just have to make it a priority to give them the help they need to become contributing citizens. As a taxpayer and a donor, I'd much rather pay money on the front end for a good outcome than pay for prisons."

Read more on the Star-Telegram website.



Mental Health Service Use Low among African American and Foreign-born Caribbean Black Men

Posted: June 19, 2012

A study published in the May issue of American Journal of Public Health, and titled Ethnic Differences in Mental Illness and Mental Health Service Use Among Black Fathers, finds the prevalence of mental illness, sociodemographic correlates, and service use among Black fathers varies by ethnicity and nativity. US-born Caribbean Black fathers had alarmingly high rates of most disorders, including depression, anxiety, and substance disorders. Mental health service use was particularly low for African American and foreign-born Caribbean Black fathers.

The authors presented nationally representative data on the prevalence and correlates of mental illness and mental health service use among African American and Caribbean Black (US-born and foreign-born) fathers in the United States. They have reported national estimates of lifetime and 12-month prevalence rates of mental illness, correlates, and service use among African American (n = 1254) and Caribbean Black (n = 633) fathers using data from the National Survey of American Life, a national household survey of Black Americans. The study concluded there is a need for more research on the causes and consequences of mental illness and the help-seeking behavior of ethnically diverse Black fathers.

Read the abstract of the study.

 



Recovery Support in Indian Tribal Communities: Anishnaabek Healing Circle (Access to Recovery)

Posted: June 17, 2012

In a series of recovery advocacy interviews by William L. White, Recovery Support in Indian Tribal Communities, he recently interviewed Eva Petoskey, MS. Petoskey is the Director of the Anishnaabek Healing Circle (Access to Recovery), Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan and in the interview she discusses her work developing recovery support services within Indian tribal communities.

The goal of the Anishnaabek Healing Circle is to provide a full continuum of care, in a cost effective manner, to the largest number of people, in a culturally-competent, respectful manner to clients who have a genuine, free and independent choice of providers.

Read the full interview (pdf).



A Healthy People 2020 Spotlight on LGBT Health: Transgender Health Issues Webinar

Posted: June 15, 2012

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted a series of webinars highlighting the Healthy People 2020 focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health. Healthy People is an initiative that provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. One of the goals of Healthy People 2020 is to improve the health, safety, and well-being of LGBT individuals. View all the webinar videos on you tube. Watch different parts of the webinar by clicking on the links below:

Learn more about Healthy People 2020 focus on LGBT Health.



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