When the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act passed in 2008, we recognized that winning approval of this milestone law was really just half the battle.
That's why we pressed for strong regulations that reflect Congressional intent and ensure access to mental health services are provided. We've also moved to inform and educate advocates and consumers about the law, the regulations and their rights through webinars and fact sheets. And just recently a toolkit developed by Mental Health America and partner organizations in the Parity Implementation Coalition was produced.
We're also continuing public education efforts so the greatest number of people know about the law's benefits and companies large and small understand that mental health should be a business priority.
The results of these efforts—and the years of work that that helped produce passage of the law—are encouraging. A recent Kaiser Foundation survey of 2,000 businesses found that only five percent of those responding had dropped mental health and substance use coverage in response to the parity law.
We're also gratified by success stories—like the Bryan Family of San Antonio, whose son Kevin has schizoaffective disorder. Their health plan limited the number of annual therapy sessions and by September of each year they were forced to pay $60 per visit or roughly $3000 a year. Under the new parity provisions, the annual cap on visits was lifted and they're only responsible for a $15 co-payment. Kevin is responding well to treatment and considering going to college next year.
It tells us that we're helping make a difference. ::
The recent suicides of four gay male teenagers within a four-week period has focused needed attention on bullying and harassment and prompted one Senator to call for anti-bullying legislation.
Every day, young people are bullied because of some characteristic that sets them apart. Whatever the focus of the bullying, it has severe and often tragic consequences for the victim. Students who are face-to-face bullied, and/or cyberbullied, face increased risk for depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and suicide.
Research indicates that 31 percent of gay youth were threatened or injured at school in just the last year. These experiences have a devastating impact on the educational success and mental health of these youth and others who witness its process. Gay teens in U.S. schools are often subjected to such intense bullying that they're unable to receive an adequate education. And they're often embarrassed or ashamed of being targeted and may not report the abuse.
Anti-gay prejudice affects straight youth, too. In fact, for every gay, lesbian and bisexual youth who reported being harassed, four straight students said they were harassed because they were perceived as being gay or lesbian
Mental Health America is a partner in The Stop Bullying Now! Campaign that helps to reach youth across the country. We have also developed material to help parents and students address the problem. Two facts sheets, "Bullying: What to Do About It" and "Bullying and Gay Youth" helps parents understand the problem, recognize it, and take steps to stop it.
"What Does Gay Mean?" is an anti-bullying program Mental Health America designed to improve understanding and respect for youth who are gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT). Centered on an educational booklet, What Does Gay Mean?: How to Talk with Kids About Sexual Orientation and Prejudice, it encourages parents and others to communicate and share values of respect with their children. The booklet is available through Mental Health America's Store and can also be downloaded for free. :: top
“Every day, young people are bullied because of some characteristic that sets them apart."
-Mental Health America