Posted on: June 10, 2019
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that nearly one in five adults in the United States live with a mental illness. Yet only 60% of people with diagnosable mental health concerns will seek treatment, and for those who do seek treatment, only one in three will receive treatment. Usually, this help is minimally adequate. Despite these challenges, there are many reasons to be hopeful for the future of mental health care. Even in the past decade, there have been tremendous strides in mental health care that should be a cause for celebration. Let’s explore a few of these exciting advancements.
Some of the greatest improvements in mental health care came in the form of policy reforms. In the context of insurance benefits, parity calls for mental health benefits to be covered and reimbursed the same as physical healthcare.
The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 took important steps to prohibit health plans from capping the annual or lifetime amounts of mental health benefits. Additional protections were added with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), which required substance use disorders to have comparable coverage. However, the requirements of the MHPAEA only applied to insurers whose benefits packages already included mental health and substance use disorder.
Building on the earlier parity legislation, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) required most individual and small-employer health insurance plans to cover services for both mental health and substance use services. Because of the ACA, most health plans now cover preventative care for mental health, including depression screening and behavioral assessments, increasing access to care for countless Americans.
In addition to policy reforms, there have also been an incredible number of advances in mental health treatment thanks to groundbreaking medical technology. Pharmacogenetic tests have made a particular impact by offering personalized medicine that uses DNA to inform treatment decisions for mental health medications. In previous years, one of the greatest challenges in mental health was the lack of evidence-based tools to help psychiatric providers choose the best medications. With the help of new pharmacogenomics tests, this challenge is quickly becoming more manageable.
Leading pharmacogenetic tools, such as the GeneSight® Psychotropic test, allow psychiatrists to determine how well mental health medications will be metabolized before ever prescribing the medicine. This special type of genetic testing allows the right medication to be prescribed at the optimal dosage, liming side effects and providing relief from symptoms much sooner. In addition, a recent study on major depressive disorder revealed that people were 50% more likely to achieve remission and 30% more likely to respond to treatment when their medication was selected using the GeneSight® Psychotropic test. This, of course, is a huge win for mental health care.
So much progress has already been made, and even more advancements are on the horizon. At Edgewood Clinical Services, we are proud to be on the frontlines of reducing stigma and providing the best quality services available. To learn more about the services we offer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today!