Our communities benefit when its members receive essential services to recover from mental and substance use disorders, prescription drug misuse and abuse, mental illness, underage drinking, suicidal tendencies, post traumatic stress, etc. Essential benefits including effective treatments and services for mental and/or substance use disorders is one of the foundations for healthy families and healthy community. The preventative qualities of essential benefits matters not just to the individual with the problem but to law enforcement, families, and the taxpayer by alleviating costly abusive and criminal behavior. While effective treatments exist, various studies (for example Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s ) 2014 study) show that far too few people with behavioral health conditions receive the help they need.
Many Americans likely go without needed behavioral health treatment, but as a result of the Affordable Care Act which extends the impact of theMental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), many health plans must offer coverage for mental health or substance use disorders with at least an equal level of benefits as the plans offer for the treatment of physical health problems. California should improve the program and lower the cost of healthcare by working toward single-payer state controlled health insurance or a state form of Medicare for All.
Supportive Services in California should be available from the following:
- Specialty community behavioral health centers
- Substance use disorder rehabilitation programs
- Independent providers
- Community health centers
- Mutual support groups and peer-run organizations
- Community-based organizations
- Jails and prisons
- At home through telebehavioral or home-based services
- Inpatient service providers
- Primary care programs with integrated behavioral health services
- And a variety of other community settings
Treatment should be in the form of
- Individual and Group Counseling
- Supportive Services
- Evidence based treatment
- Treatment for co-occuring mental and substance use disorders
I agree that there is still a stigma associated with those who seek behavioral health care. Education is key to destigmatizing behavioral health conditions but as long as we have stigma, we have injustices. Destigmatization is not the only solution…the security of a base pay could help some to seek behavioral health services.
Stigma is also unfairly associated with people who have served time in prison. Once a person has served their time, they should be considered “cured” but this is not always a reality. The State of California can intercede by helping both former prisoners and those with cured or treated behavioral health disorders to receive a base income until such time as they are able to support themselves.
Support services in the form of a base income would provide the guarantee people need that they will not be left without an income if they seek behavioral health services and are stigmatized. A base pay would also alleviate our homeless problem and some of the problematic “survival behavior” (petty theft, trespass, loitering, prostitution, etc) associated with those in need. A base pay could be a form of preventative medicine…an intervention before a person ends up in a situation where they are in need of behavioral health services.
I have been embracing behavior health since I was 19 years old and served a year as a volunteer at a mission in the south Bronx of New York City while working at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Home for Dependent and Neglected children. I will not only embrace behavioral health as a public policy priority but will seek ways to shift funds and export it internationally to bring world-wide peace and healthy communities using less militaristic mechanisms.