Today is World Mental Health Day. As social workers we are all aware that mental health conditions impact 1 out of every 4 people. People impacted by mental health conditions include our friends, our family members, our clients, and even ourselves. In fact, social workers provide 60% of mental health care across the nation according to the National Association of Social Workers. Now more than ever we should all be aware of our own mental well-being and those around us.
For many people with mental health conditions, receiving appropriate and timely services is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. A number of factors can impact your access to care including: your income, location, diagnosis, age, and more. However, there were historically even more barriers to care before the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To keep it simple, today I’ll share two ways that the ACA has impacted how Americans get mental health treatment with the goal of long-term recovery.
2. Removal of Pre-Existing Conditions Limitations
When you hear the term “pre-existing conditions”, most people think of major physical conditions like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. However, the term can also include some mental health and substance use conditions. From the mental health side, a person was usually labeled with a pre-existing condition if they were living with serious and persistent mental illness. The ACA included mental health and substance use conditions as pre-existing conditions and specifically stated that Marketplace plans cannot deny someone for those conditions. This was a huge change for people with mental health and substance use conditions, who were routinely denied care for a diagnosis. Now people with mental health diagnoses are guaranteed access to insurance with denial because of their diagnosis. Insurance coverage is known to increase someone's likelihood of seeking treatment, thus helping them moving toward recovery.
This is a simplified drop in the bucket on how the ACA impacted mental health care. For another day… Medicaid is the single payer of mental health and substance use care in the country. We’ll touch on this specifically in an upcoming post.
- Alison Mohr Boleware, MSSW
Will Francis, LMSW
Government Relations Director,
National Association of Social Workers,
Cossy Hough, LCSW
Clinical Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin,
School of Social Work
Anna Stelter, LMSW, MPH
Health Policy Analyst
Texas Health Institute
Alison Mohr Boleware, MSSW
Mental Health Policy,