Tag Archives: depression

An Insurance Penalty From Postpartum Depression

In January, a government-appointed panel recommended that all pregnant women and new mothers be screened for depression. Public health advocates rejoiced, as did untold numbers of women who had not known that maternal mental illness even existed before it hit them like a freight train.

But the panel did not mention one possible consequence of a diagnosis: Life and disability insurance providers have sometimes penalized women with these mental illnesses by charging them more money, excluding mental illness from coverage or declining to cover them at all. And it’s perfectly legal.

Many insurance companies lump these women with the larger pool of people in whom more general depression has been diagnosed. That can leave those with mild to moderate cases that came and went facing higher rates, even if they may not be at higher risk of suicide or being unable to work. But insurers base decisions on actuarial data, and the historical underdiagnosis of mild to moderate postpartum depression means there is not much long-term data for insurance companies to use.

Not every woman will pay higher rates, and the fear of doing so is not a good reason to avoid screening or necessary treatment. Women who are aware of the potential insurance problems can theoretically circumvent them in the short term. Any woman who has never given birth but hopes to get pregnant soon should buy as much life and disability insurance as she thinks she will need before she conceives.

To read the full story, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Panel Calls for Depression Screenings During and After Pregnancy

Women should be screened for depression during pregnancy and after giving birth, an influential government-appointed health panel said Tuesday, the first time it has recommended screening for maternal mental illness.

The recommendation, expected to galvanize many more health providers to provide screening, comes in the wake of new evidence that maternal mental illness is more common than previously thought; that many cases of what has been called postpartum depression actually start during pregnancy; and that left untreated, these mood disorders can be detrimental to the well-being of children.

It also follows growing efforts by states, medical organizations and health advocates to help women having these symptoms — an estimated one in seven postpartum mothers, some experts say.

“There’s better evidence for identifying and treating women with depression” during and after pregnancy, said Dr. Michael Pignone, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an author of the recommendation, which was issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. As a result, he said, “we specifically called out the need for screening during this period.”

The recommendation was part of updated depression screening guidelines issued by the panel, an independent group of experts appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2009, the group said adults should be screened if clinicians had the staff to provide support and treatment; the new guidelines recommend adult screening even without such staff members, saying mental health support is now more widely available. The 2009 guidelines did not mention depression during or after pregnancy.

To read the full story, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

What Don Draper taught us about the Modern Man

Don Draper is the ultimate 1960s ad man from AMC’s Mad Men, which came to end today.  Don is a man with perfect style. He is supremely confident, cool under pressure, and admired by everyone for his creative genius and ability to close a deal.

Don’s ambition and drive overcame a traumatic childhood and a less than honorable tour of Korea with the US Army. At the height of Don’s success he had everything – a beautiful wife and children, a Manhattan apartment and the ultimate job, a successful leader of his own agency and a legend of his industry.  Don was a perfectionist, which seemed to be driven more by what he thought other people expected of him than his own priorities. With that, people came to expect perfection from Don. He was “the man.”

Don, however, was also a man whose emotions were in lockdown, as he obsessed with being successful and in control. As seen in the show’s opening credits, after his success came his spiraling downfall, triggered by a series of events: the loss of his second marriage to Megan, a daughter who disowned him, the decline of his agency, and eventually, the loss of his job.

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Public Policy Reform Focusing on Mental Health Disparities

Chirlane McCray, the wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, revealed on Wednesday that she had been surrounded by mental illness most of her life — first as a child of parents who had depression and later as a mother of a daughter who is recovering from depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

In a public appeal, Ms. McCray used intimate family turmoil as a springboard for public policy. She announced plans for a comprehensive review of the mental health problems that affect New Yorkers to help the city identify and address disparities in care. The review will be conducted through a partnership among the city’s health department, the Fund for Public Health and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which Ms. McCray leads as an unpaid chairwoman.

The “road map,” as the first lady called it, will be completed by summer, and the mayor’s fund will then commit money, though she did not disclose a budget.

Ms. McCray, who has worked in publishing and as a speechwriter, made her announcement at a conference of mental health professionals at Brooklyn Borough Hall. She lightened the mood by asking people to stretch and greet one another. Then she grew serious.

“My mother, who is a daughter of immigrants, and my father, who was a veteran, a World War II veteran, both suffered from depression at times in their lives,” said Ms. McCray, 60, who grew up in Massachusetts. “They had periods of intense sadness for different reasons. To their enormous credit, they still managed to bring us up. But we knew it was there.”

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Here are a Few Resources for Mental Illness Treatment

More than 60 million American adults — one in every four — suffer from some form of mental illness, ranging from panic disorders to depression, according to mental health professionals. Nearly 14 million live with a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and severe depression.

Americans often don’t know where to turn when dealing with a loved one with serious mental illness, but there are resources available.

Here are a few of those:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides a program geared toward healthy living strategies and skill-building resources for adults. The course is free, confidential and led by trained individuals in recovery from mental illness. The organization also facilitates a discussion group called Teen Consumers, which provides a healthy environment for teenagers to discuss their diagnoses and treatments. The National Alliance on Mental Illness also offers support groups for parents of teens with mental illness. The nonprofit’s website provides a state-by-state directory of local support groups. It has a hotline for general information, referrals and support: 800-950-6264. Its hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together people and communities to “understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes.” Those in crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to talk to a counselor.
  • The Treatment Advocacy Center is a nonprofit that works to promote policies that support people with severe mental illness. Its website features links to connect families and individuals to treatment options, legal resources and crisis response strategies.
  • Treatment Before Tragedy is a new nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the most seriously mentally ill and their families. The group’s mission statement is to advocate “for better treatment, services, research and a cure for individuals and families impacted by serious mental illness.”
  • The Balanced Mind Parent Network offers support for parents and guardians of children with mood disorders. The nonprofit provides online support groups, a professional resource directory and a help line in which families can submit questions to trained parent volunteers. The network’s website lists 28 support groups to address the needs of all ages — from toddler to young adults suffering from depression or bipolar disorder as well as to their family members. The organization aims to see children thrive in spite of their disorders by receiving proper care and the support they deserve.

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary