Let your feelings and thoughts be heard. Talk to anyone who you feel can be trusted. Just talk.
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This body is the vessel and proof of survival. This body is here and now. Being born into possibility, cut from the past, cut from the hopelessness.
I write songs about my struggles, but they come from a place of strength and fortitude. They are a reflection of how I am fighting back against the demons and putting them in their proper place each day.
BARRIER #1: ATTITUDINAL BARRIERS
Attitudinal barriers commonly cause those living with mental illness to avoid seeking mental health services. These attitudinal barriers can include believing that a mental illness will resolve on its own or not believing in the beneficial aspects of psychiatric care.
As an example, look to a 2009 Psychiatric Services study which examined needs for mental health services in a sample of 272 veterans who met screening criteria for a mental health condition. Researchers found that negative beliefs about mental health services were strongly associated with concerns about barriers to care and an increased perception of mental illness stigma. Negative beliefs about mental health care were also associated with a decreased likelihood of mental health counseling in the six months prior to interview.
Can attitudinal barriers be adjusted?
Educational interventions introduced throughout the early school years could work to develop a better publicly-shared understanding about mental illness. Ideally, educational interventions would orient children and young adults toward social inclusion and pro-social action. Programs introduced during the final years of high school could include contact with a person living with mental illness; this person could contribute to the intervention process on a voluntary basis by sharing her/his experience of living with a mental health condition. Interventions successful in aiding the development of empathy toward those with mental illness may prove successful in removing attitudinal barriers toward mental health issues and treatment.
Strengthening support in local communities could be facilitated by the creation of weekly or monthly community meetings centered around mental health and well-being. Meetings would bring community members together with the shared goals of spreading information about mental health issues and resources, bolstering public support, and creating community bonds. If a wellness group is missing in your community, consider discussing with friends, family or town board members the possibility of starting a mental health and wellness group near you. The number of interested people may surprise you!
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
- 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.