Articles Tagged with mental health

In 2017, 47,000 Americans died by suicide and 17.3 million adults suffered at least one major depressive episode. When I see statistics like those, my mind floods with a flurry of thoughts all at once:

  • “Why?”
  • “How many more have died by suicide since 2017?”

September is National Recovery Month and is an observance held every September to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.

Mental health and substance use disorders affect all communities nationwide, with commitment and support, those impacted can embark on a journey of improved health and overall wellness. The focus of National Recovery Month this September is to celebrate all people that make the journey of recovery possible by embracing the 2021 theme, Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.” National Recovery Month spreads the message that people can and do recover every day.

Mental health and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable, and many people do recover. Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how individuals relate to others and make choices. Reaching a level that can be formally diagnosed often depends on a reduction in a person’s ability to function because of the disorder. For example:

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

According to the National Center for PTSD, a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about seven or eight of every 100 people will experience PTSD in their lifetime. Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD. Certain aspects of the traumatic event and some biological factors (such as genes) may make some people more likely to develop PTSD.

Even though PTSD treatments work, many people who have PTSD do not get the help they need. June is PTSD Awareness Month. The goal of PTSD Awareness Month is to spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available.

May 2021: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In honor of that, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (“AFSP”) is encouraging #MentalHealth4All. The hashtag is behind AFSP’s campaign that seeks to spread this important message:

No One’s Mental Health Is Fully Supported Until

Everyone’s Mental Health Is Fully Supported.

Dealing with insurance companies can often feel complex, challenging, and overwhelming. You are not alone. But it is always best to understand your mental health benefits BEFORE you need to use them. Mental health services may be covered in whole or in part by your health insurance or employee benefit plan. It is important to understand your mental health benefits as you will be responsible for any unpaid claims.

Here are some tips and questions to consider as you try to understand your mental health benefits.

  • Obtain a copy of your health insurance policy or employee benefit plan.

The term “long haulers” has started being used to describe people who have not fully recovered from COVID-19 weeks or even months after first experiencing symptoms. Some long haulers experience continuous symptoms for weeks or months, while others feel better for weeks, then relapse with old or new symptoms. The most common lingering symptoms are fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, inability to exercise, headache, and difficulty sleeping.

A new Northwestern Medicine study published this week in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology analyzed 100 non-hospitalized COVID-19 long haulers and discovered 85% of patients experienced four or more neurologic symptoms which impacted their quality of life, and in some patients, their cognitive abilities. The study included 100 non-hospitalized COVID-19 long haulers from 21 different states who were seen in-person or via telehealth from May to November 2020.

The long haulers suffered persistent neurological issues, including brain fog, headaches, numbness/ tingling, disorders of taste and smell, and various myalgias. Additionally, 85% reported experiencing chronic fatigue. Among the long haulers who were in the study 47% also reported struggling with anxiety, stress, depression, and sadness. As a result, many patients experienced decreased quality of life and about half the patients in the study missed more than 10 days of work.

Almost one year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and it is clear that the effects of COVID-19 go beyond the numbers of cases and deaths.

How many people are struggling under the stresses of the pandemic? Is mental health suffering as Americans try to manage isolation, worries about jobs, and a constant stream of anxiety-producing headlines? Are they putting their future health at risk by delaying trips to the doctor or avoiding the emergency room when needed?

The Household Pulse Survey is an experimental survey designed to help answer these questions by capturing data in new ways. This survey is a cooperative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Census Bureau, and several other government agencies to provide critical, up-to date information about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. population. The Household Pulse Survey is different from other surveys conducted by the Census Bureau since it was designed to be a short-turnaround instrument that provides valuable data to aid in the pandemic recovery.

On Monday, the White House issued President Trump’s Executive Order on Saving Lives Through Increased Support For Mental-and Behavioral-Health Needs, which orders the creation of a Coronavirus Mental Health Working Group (“the Working Group”), the submission of a plan by the working group for addressing mental health impacts of COVID-19, and calls for agencies to maximize support, including safe in-person services, for Americans in need of behavioral health treatment. The Working Group will issue recommendations in 45 days.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who will serve as co-chair for the Working Group, issued the following statement,

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has created or exacerbated serious behavioral health challenges for many Americans, both adding new stresses and disrupting access to treatment. The President’s Executive Order is a welcome opportunity to increase efforts to address the mental health effects of the pandemic, which have already included hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and historic flexibilities to ensure Americans can continue to receive treatment for mental illness and substance use disorders.”

On Friday September 25, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that strengthens and expands mental health parity protections in California. This law amends the California Mental Health Parity Act by adding significant new protections that are good news for participants in both group and individual healthcare insurance policies (including disability policies that cover healthcare), and bad news for insurance companies that have continued to unfairly deny medically necessary coverage for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Co-Founding Partner Lisa S. Kantor, working with other mental health advocates and one of the bill’s sponsors, was instrumental in the development of this law.

Among other highlights, the new law now covers all generally recognized mental health disorders as well as substance use disorders, whereas the prior law only covered a list of nine mental health disorders that were deemed severe. The legislature found the prior list was “not only incomplete and out-of-date, but also fails to encompass the range of mental health and substance use disorders whose complex interactions are contributing to overdose deaths from opioids and methamphetamines, the increase in suicides, and other so-called deaths of despair.”

The law clarifies that insurers must cover treatment at all intermediate levels of care for mental health and substance use disorders, including residential care, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment. The legislation expressly cites two groundbreaking decisions in cases brought by Kantor & Kantor’s Co-Founding Partner  Lisa KantorHarlick v. Blue Shield of California, and Rea v. Blue Shield of California – in which courts in California required residential treatment be covered under the prior law. Nevertheless, insurers have continued to insist that the California Mental Health Parity Act does not mandate necessary residential treatment for mental health disorder patients, an argument that should no longer be viable.

September 6 – 12, 2020 is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) annual National Suicide Prevention Week. This year’s message is: #KeepGoing. AFSP reminds us all that there are simple things we can each do in order to protect and safeguard our mental health, and that together, we can make a difference on the mental health of our community and those around us. . . and…together we can #KeepGoing!

As someone who overcame years of contemplating suicide as an option, and as who has lost too many people to suicide to name herein, suicide prevention is personal to me –as I am sure it is to many of you reading this. So, please do what feels right to you this National Suicide Prevention Week –get involved in ways that nourish your Self and soul. ~ And, please, most importantly: if you are struggling with ideas of taking your life or completing suicide…please do not follow-through. I know how it feels like the only option. But I am here to tell you that I will never regret not following through on the thoughts. There is hope for you – hope for your brighter days ahead and for a life free from thinking that the world would be better off without you. Indeed, you are very necessary. Get help today if you need help -you deserve it.

During this week of advocacy, education, story sharing, remembrance and more, AFSP encourages us to:

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