Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mental Health Policy in the News

Illinois' mental health court system will be under review next month. Judges will begin assessing the courts to make sure everything is up to par and running smoothly. These courts have proved to be very successful when it comes to the complex issue of mentally ill offenders. There are currently eight mental health courts in Illinois that were created from the Illinois Mental Health Court Treatment Act - Public Act 95-606 (effective 6/1/08).,w-judges-to-assess-mental-health-courts-042810.article

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The True Cost of War

I read an interesting article last week about how the cost for compensating veteran's of war are rising rapidly due to the treatment of mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

The article goes on to talk about how there are now different generations of vets - from different wars. There are those from Vietnam, those from the Persian Gulf war, and more recently those from the war on freedom in Iraq. While these generations were engaged in different wars they all seem to share the same burden from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.

So, the true costs of these wars continue to rise. According to the article 31% of Iraq vets have been diagnosed with mental illness. 'Last year, mental illnesses accounted for 35 percent of the $22 billion spent on disability payments to veterans who served in the Vietnam, Persian Gulf and "global war on terror" eras, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis. '

These costs need to be considered when rationizing the decision to go to war. While the short-run costs are easier to conceive and put a number on, the long-run costs like those of mental illnesses are what put a financial burden on the country.

Here is the link below:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Health Care Reform and Mental Health Coverage Changes

Since the new health care reform bill has passed, many experts have been scrambling to see what this means for Americans. While there is so much substance to the bill information is rolling out small pieces at a time as they are digested. I found an opinion piece in the New York Times under the prescriptions section. The question was, How much mental health coverage will this provide? Will I be able to get coverage for a therapist or psychiatrist? According to the post those at low-tiers will pay a co-pay with a lower deduct able to see a psychiatrist while those in the higher-tiers will pay a higher deduct able with no co-pay.

Once the bill is thoroughly reviewed more information will be available. Once this happens it will be easier to see what services will be covered and how it will effect mental health services.

Here is the link below,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Missouri State Legislation: Autism

Last month, SB 618 a Senate Autism Insurance Bill passed the Senate by a final vote of 26-6 and has headed over to the House. Today the Special Standing Committe on Health Insurance will hold a hearing at 1:30pm in HR 5.

Under SB 618 health insurers must provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. This would go into effect for individuals purchasing or renewing helath benefit plans after August 28, 2010. The bill also prohibits health carriers from denying coverage for those already diagnosed with autism. Coverage of up to $55,000 per year for individuals under the age of 21 is avaiable. The full bill summary and text can be found at the link below.

Below you can see Senator Scott Rupp introduce the bill on the floor.

Senator Scott T. Rupp presents SB618 in front of Sen. Insurance Committee

Is it the Job's responsibility to accomodate mental health conditions?

A colleague of mine brought to my attention today an interesting article about reasonable accommodation. The article was about how to handle an employee who was diagnosed with a condition as manic-depression. Jeff is a librarian at a large, state-supported university who works as a reference librarian. He has to interact with patrons of the library and other support staff. With his mood swings Jeff becomes extremely depressed and prefers to stay in his office most of the day. Because of this the other librarians took notice and informed HR. The head of HR suggested that Jeff be reassigned to cataloging since it has little interaction with individuals. Do you think it is a reasonable request of HR to reassign Jeff to another department until he recovers from his condition?

Is Jeff's condition a disability? Since it is affecting his productivity this mental condition could be considered a disability. I believe it was a reasonable request to reassign Jeff to another department until his condition is controlled and he is able to complete his assignments and interact with individuals. This article makes you think about how the job should be responsible for handling such conditions and how it has an impact of the business and overall economy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mental Health Headlines in March

Mental health made the headlines in the Wall Street Journal this past week with an article that discusses how the recession is impacting the nation's mental health. More can be found here where the article cites home foreclosures, prolonged unemployment, and bankruptcies as reasons for increasing stress on Individuals.

This article from the NY Times goes back to my previous point about violence, stress, and mental health. This article is about the mental health history of the Pentagon Shooter, John Patrick Bedell that opened fire on March 4, 2010. While it is still unclear why he opened fired it could be related to stress and the economy like the others in the previous post.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mental Health and Job-Related Shootings

This article from the San Fransico Chronicle comments about three job-related shootings that have occured within a few months time. Is too much stress in the workplace causing people to open fire and shot other co-workers?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Serious Costs of Mental Health

What perfect timing in this political environment to discuss the costs that metal health imposes on our nation. With the health reform bill the hot topic of discussion in Washington it is imperative that elected officials give serious consideration to reforming the mental health system. Looking back on previous legislation and by simply looking around hospitals it is easy to see that the mental health department is one of the first to get cuts in the budget. I have attached an article that gives statistics on how much mental health costs burden the American economy. The author Micheal Hogan discusses how most of the mental health costs are 'indirect costs' rather than 'direct costs'. Direct costs would be for example hospitals visits while indirect costs are the costs of an individual not being able to contribute to the workforce.

This report is very helpful for forming public policy in regards to mental health because it gives statistics to back up how mental health diseases are effecting the country. It is important for the economy to pass meaningful legislation that would improve conditions for mental health patients.

Below is a link to the journal article by Hogan:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Stress and the Economy

While I am no expert in the mental health field I found it worthwhile to focus my attentions towards something I care about-economics. Then I thought about how the two disciplines interact with each other. I know most people in the health professions put economics on the back burner but I believe examining the economics of health care is an imperative part of this field, especially narrowing down the health field to focus primarily on mental health.

It is no surprise to me that when researching how mental health conditions affect the economy there was not much out there. That is because the United States offer little funds in this area. I have decided to link an article as my first blog post to show how the economy is affecting our population's mental health. While the article is from around a year ago I feel the information in it is still relevant given our economy has somewhat stayed the same.

Mental stress spirals with economy - USA Today 3.12.2009

The article explains how the downswing in the economny produces and enviornment where Americans are experiencing worsened mental health. Some higlights from a poll given to over 300,000 Americans include the stress from the economy are keeping people up at night. Stress is also accumulated from the ability to pay medical bills. While these two are no suprise for most the article aslo touches on how Hispanics are the most emotionally affected by the economy.