One in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children in the U.S. will experience a mental health disorder this year – yet the majority with diagnosable illness will not get treatment. We have made progress, but we have much more to do.
First, I believe that we have to completely eliminate any stigma surrounding mental illness or addiction and ensure we have a trained workforce in place to provide treatment. We need to educate the public and policymakers – to let them know how that these problems are treatable (often more treatable than physical illnesses). I am especially concerned with meeting the needs of our brave military men and women and solving the mental health crises that they face. Since 2001, more U.S. troops have died from suicide than in combat in Afghanistan, yet very little of the military’s medical budget is spent on mental health.
Many other Americans are also in need. There are estimates that two-thirds of children who could benefit from treatment are not getting it. On the other end of the age spectrum, we know that many seniors are not getting the care they need – many are living under the myth that depression is a normal part of the aging process and must be endured, not cured.
Second, I am a strong supporter of mental health parity laws and The Affordable Care Act, which make sure that no one can be denied access to health insurance because of an ongoing or previous mental health diagnosis – and they can cannot be charged higher premiums or face lifetime or annual limits on benefits. I am working hard to make sure that mental health parity and The Affordable Care Act are enforced.