Tag Archives: Mental illness

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.”

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Possible Discrimination Practices Being Investigated

The New York Times   (12/23, A19, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports that the Obama Administration “said Monday that it would investigate prescription drug coverage and other benefits offered by health insurance companies to see if they discriminated against people with AIDS, mental illness, diabetes or other costly chronic conditions.” Officials said they had become aware of “discriminatory benefit designs” that discourage people from enrolling because of age or medical condition. In a letter to health insurers, “administration officials said that a health plan could be engaging in unlawful discrimination if its list of approved drugs excluded all medicines needed to treat a particular condition, or if it restricted access to such drugs by charging large co-payments or requiring prior authorization.” The Times notes the Affordable Care Act mandates that insurers accept all applicants for coverage and cannot charge higher premiums based on a person’s pre-existing conditions.

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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