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Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) will begin to take effect. A comprehensive summary of the entire Act can be found here, but here’s a quick overview of some of the changes that will take place:

  • Comprehensive and accessible treatment options
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • No more dropped coverage due to illness
  • More access to preventative care
  • Restrictions on lifetime and annual limits
  • Coverage for young adults under parents’ plan until age 26
  • More access to Medicaid**

Affordable Care Act & Mental Health

The Affordable Care Act offers some benefits that specifically impact mental health care and treatment. These benefits are an expansion of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which required insurance providers to treat mental health/substance abuse issues as equal to physical illnesses or disorders. While all of the specifics aren’t known yet, below are some of the changes that will occur in regards to mental health:
  • There will be increased coverage for mental health services. About20%  of people who currently have insurance receive no benefits for treatment of mental illnesses. Treatment, certain prevention services and screening for mental health issues (including substance abuse) will also be covered under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Those who are uninsured or underinsured are now able to get coverage. Mental health issues or disorders have previously been a barrier to receiving or affording coverage, as it could be considered a pre-existing condition. After the Affordable Care Act takes effect, pre-existing conditions can no longer factor in availability or cost of coverage.
  • Funding for mental health services and centers will increase. The Affordable Care act also mandates that funding for community mental health centers will increase by $11 billion over the next five years, which includes expanding both preventative and behavioral health services. A portion of this funding will also be dedicated to renovation of existing community health centers or the construction of new centers.
  • People will now have the opportunity to designate “health homes”. Those who are eligible for Medicaid will be able to assign health homes, which are medical homes for people who have a serious, chronic condition that may require extended care. The goal of these health homes is to integrate all aspects of a person’s care in a way that promotes comprehensive wellness.


Those who are uninsured will be required to purchase insurance, or face a penalty per the individual mandate. Subsidies will be in place to help people afford this insurance if they are unable to. However, there are exemptions to the penalty in certain situations such as inability to afford the premium or religious objection.

Immigrant or Undocumented?

According to the National Immigration Law Center, lawfully present immigrants will have restricted or limited benefits, while undocumented immigrants will receive no benefits. A full list of coverage information for each group is available here.

How to sign up

You can visit the official marketplace website at, or click here to find the marketplace website for your state. The marketplace enrollment dates are from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. Those who enroll by December 15, 2013 will have coverage effective January 1, 2014.

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Insurance was originally published on | Redefining Mental Health




Meditation is a form of complementary and alternative medicine. There are numerous reasons to practice meditation. One common reason is for health related purposes. In fact, some people use this therapy to cope with illnesses. It is a great stress reliever that can be used to increase calmness and physical relaxation. Mediation can also improve practitioner’s psychological balance in aiding with the treatment of Depression and Anxiety disorders such as conversion disorder. By practicing meditation, one can approach their thoughts and emotions more positively. It can refine practitioner’s ability to focus their attention as well. Recently, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) studies reveal that meditation can also improve attention-related abilities. This is very useful to those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder.
According to the NCCAM, previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness meditation may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression as well. This form of meditation focuses attention on breathing techniques to develop increased awareness of the present. A study was completed about meditation and it’s affect on the brain utilizing a mindfulness-based stress reduction. The study’s purpose is to distinguish specific brain regions of the participants. The results showed that “Brain images in the meditation group revealed increases in gray matter concentration in the left. The hippocampus is an area of the brain involved in learning, memory, and emotional control, and is suspected of playing a role in producing some of the positive effects of meditation.” This proves that an underlying brain mechanism is associated with the mindfulness meditation in mental health. Overall, meditation can be great tool to help aid in treating mental illnesses. It would work best used in combination with other treatments. Meditation should not be used as a replacement for conventional care or as a reason to postpone seeing a doctor about a medical problem.

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Meditation was originally published on | Redefining Mental Health



Music Therapy

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is defined as the “…clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” These music therapy sessions can include making, listening, and discussing about music. In other words, it is an alternative therapy that uses music to help individuals develop interpersonal relationships and help address their issues. These issues could be physical, psychological, cognitive and/or social functioning . Most music therapists offer services in psychiatric treatment centers, outpatient clinics, community mental health centers, substance abuse programs, group homes, rehabilitation facilities, medical hospitals, senior centers, schools, hospice and other facilities. Other therapists have private practices.
Music therapy is used for several reasons. It is used for physical rehabilitation, emotional support, and as an emotional outlet. Music therapy is useful for mental health needs because it uses musical interaction as a means of communication and expression. It helps express personal feelings that makes positive changes in mood and emotional states. This form of communication helps resolves conflicts leading to stronger family and peer relationships. It also provides a sense of control over life through successful experiences.
There are some misconceptions about music therapy. One misconception is that a patient needs some particular music ability to benefit from music therapy. This is false because prior music training is not needed at all for therapy to be affective. Another misconception is that this treatment is meant for only children and adolescents. However, Music therapy can be used for patients of all ages. Lastly, only one type of music is used in music therapy. This is untrue due to the fact that all styles of music can be used in Music therapy. In fact, a music therapist determines which music is to used by the patient’s preferences, circumstances, goals and his/her need for treatment.
Music therapy, as an addition to standard care, helps people with schizophrenia to improve their global state, and may also improve mental state and functioning if a sufficient number of music therapy sessions are provided. Music therapy could be used with drug rehabilitation for substance abuse disorders. Also, it could be used for depression as well. Some possible outcomes are reducing anxiety, releasing emotions safely, improving self-image, increasing verbalization, self-esteem, and motivation. Overall, music therapy is most successful with additional healthcare and educational settings.

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Music Therapy was originally published on | Redefining Mental Health



Pharmaceutical Drugs


(Def.):” a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty with thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts or an attempt to commit suicide.” (Medline Plus Dictionary)


(Def.)”: any of various disorders (as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, a phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder) in which anxiety is a predominant feature—called also anxiety neurosis, anxiety state.”(Medlineplus Medical Dictionary)

Bi-polar Disorder

(Def.):”any of several mood disorders characterized usually by alternating episodes of depression and mania or by episodes of depression alternating with mild nonpsychotic excitement.”(Medlineplus Medical Dictionary)


(Def.):”Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiogical disorder seen in both children and adults that is comprised of deficits in behavioral inhibition, sustained attention and resistance to distraction, and the regulation of one’s activity level to the demands of a situation.” (


(Def.):”a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as in delusions), perception (as in hallucinations), and behavior.”(Medlineplus Medical Dictionary)

Eating Disorders

(Def.) :”any of several psychological disorders (as anorexia nervosa or bulimia) characterized by serious disturbances of eating behavior.” (Medlineplus Medical Dictionary)

Pharmaceutical Drugs was originally published on | Redefining Mental Health




According to Medlineplus Dictionary, yoga is “a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation derived from Yoga, but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote bodily or mental control and well-being.” It is considered a mind-body type of alternative therapy. There are many styles of yoga, but the most common style is hatha yoga. Medlineplus Dictionary defines hatha yoga as the “ form of yoga emphasizing a system of physical postures for balancing, stretching, and strengthening the body.” It is a good choice for stress management. Beginners may like the hatha yoga for it’s slower pace and easier movements. Yogahas two main components: poses (also known as postures) and breathing. These postures are designed to increase strength and flexibility. They range from lying on the floor to difficult postures such as “Handstand”. Pregnant women, and people with medical conditions should modify, or avoid certain poses. Breathing is also an essential part of yoga as well. Yoga instructors teaches yoga students how to control their breathing. The instructors instill the notion that control breathing leads to control over mind and body.
Practicing yoga comes with health benefits as well. Numerous studies have established that yoga can help with stress reduction, mood enhancement, and an overall sensation of well-being. Practicing yoga can lead to improvement in fitness. This includes improving balance, flexibility, range of motion, and strength. It is also helpful in complementary to conventional treatment of mental disorders. Yoga can help alleviate mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorder such as alcoholism. In fact, yoga can reduce reactions to the events that prompt symptoms of conversion disorder. Yoga Nidra is a relaxation and meditative form of yoga. It has been used as an adjunctive treatment for Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Before beginning yoga, There are some precautions that should be taken. A health care provider or local hospital or any trusted source can recommend a yoga practitioner. Only use professional organizations to find practitioners who have completed an acceptable training program. For your safety, report any alternative therapy such as yoga to your health provider. Do not use yoga as a replacement for conventional treatment since it is the most useful conjoined with conventional treatment.

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Yoga was originally published on | Redefining Mental Health


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