Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Health Care Includes Mental Health?

The sound and the fury of the health care debates raging in the land of pundits, journalists, and concerned citizens is sometimes less than clear.

I am not sure people are talking about the same thing sometimes, because they seem discordant and unsure of their facts about what physical illness is relevant.

I have heard no discussion about what mental health issues, if any, are covered in this raging health care debate.

Mental health care should be included in the discussion if the issue of mounting health care costs is to be a factor:
U.S. spending on mental illness is soaring at a faster pace than spending on any other health care category, new government data released Wednesday shows. The cost of treating mental disorders rose sharply between 1996 and 2006, from $35 billion (in 2006 dollars) to almost $58 billion, according to the report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At the same time, the report showed, the number of Americans who sought treatment for depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health woes almost doubled, from 19 million to 36 million. The new statistics come on the heels of a study, released Monday, that found antidepressant use among U.S. residents almost doubled between a similar time frame, 1996 and 2005"
(Medical News Today, emphasis added). There is some potentially disconcerting language on some government sites in this regard:
The emotional impact of traumatic events can have devastating effects on the mental well-being of individuals of all ages. For many, it is easy to focus all energies on helping other people or on maintaining daily schedules and routines. Although these efforts deserve attention, it is important to remember to take care of yourself and to monitor your own emotions during difficult times.
(U.S. HHS, emphasis added). It is a bit strange but at the same time socially acceptable that we would be left to monitor our own mental condition, but would not even think of doing our own doctoring on physical maladies.

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