Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said successful legislation, federal programs and financial support from grants have helped raise awareness about the importance of mental health and greatly benefited those with mental health disorders. In 2011, 45.9 million American adults were diagnosed with a mental illness, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
“These conditions affect individuals, their families and loved ones, and communities,” Sebelius said in a press release. “Unfortunately, many individuals do not receive needed services and treatment. In fact, estimates show that one-fifth to one-third of the uninsured are people with mental and substance use disorders.”
According to Sebelius, those with mental illnesses experience disparities in income, employment, homelessness, community support, education and life expectancy. “Outdated misperceptions, myths and prejudice lead to many of these outcomes,” she said.
As part of Mental Health Month, Sebelius offered examples of what she said were “successful efforts that have raised awareness about the importance of mental health,” which included:
- The Affordable Care Act increasing health insurance coverage to an estimated 30 million Americans by 2016, with approximately 11 million of these newly eligible beneficiaries having substance abuse and mental health service needs.
- The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant providing financial aid to states and territories to implement state plans offering “comprehensive community-based mental health services and evidence-based practices to adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbances.”
- The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, enacted in 2008, eliminating unequal treatment practices and allowing greater access to “much needed mental health and substance use disorder treatment services through more equitable insurance coverage.”
- The Garrett Lee Smith State/Tribal Suicide Prevention Program coordinating with government agencies and private sector organizations to develop, implement and evaluate youth suicide prevention and early intervention plans for schools and other educational institutions, juvenile correction facilities, substance-related rehabilitation, primary and foster care facilities and mental health programs.
“Mental Health Month gives all of us a valuable opportunity to celebrate the tremendous strides this nation has made in promoting mental health and increasing the public’s knowledge that effective services and support are available,” Sebelius said.
For more information on Mental Health Month, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/may.