US Federal Government: Increase the availability of mental health services now!
  • Petitioning United States Federal Government

This petition will be delivered to:

President Barack Obama
United States Federal Government
Secretary HHS
Kathleen Sebelius
U.S. Senate
U.S. House of Representatives
Missouri
Sen. Claire McCaskill

US Federal Government: Increase the availability of mental health services now!

    1. Jason Eccker
    2. Petition by

      Jason Eccker

      St. Louis, MO

UPDATED: 5/29/14

Have We Reached the Tipping Point?

 

Another senseless tragedy has struck our country and the outcry for solutions pervades the media.  How long, though, until we forget?  Until the media attention fades?  Until we are shocked, again, by the next mass shooting or stabbing or bombing? 

 

There is not a simple solution to this problem.  However, we must refuse to accept this string of violence as inherent or inevitable.  Other developed countries do not have this problem.  There is something in our society that needs attention.

 

Part of the habitual outcry relates to gun/weapon/violence control.  The other, to which I will speak, is regarding mental health services.  As a mental health professional as well as a consumer of services, I cannot impress enough the need to strike down the continued stigma related to mental health care that we are allowing health insurance companies to continue in the name of profit. 

 

Who else benefits from keeping this stigma around?  Most of us seem to have grown weary of it – especially when the consequences to society cost us billions of dollars and countless lives.  Insurance companies, though, need this stigma and the lack of quality services to persist.  Now that people are guaranteed coverage, the insurer’s best hope is that people either can’t find services or don’t seek them.

 

I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis (the #1 ranked school of social work in the country), achieved an advanced credential in substance abuse counseling, and in February 2014 passed the state exam (by a large margin) to become a licensed clinical social worker.  I opened an office in the 63118 zip code, which includes several struggling neighborhoods and an underserved population.  I can’t get a single insurance company to add me to their network.  “We’re sorry, but we have too many of your provider type in that area.”  Really?  After doing some simple research (I.e. Google), I verified this to basically be a lie. 

 

At first, I was shocked.  Why would they deny me access to their network?  It doesn’t cost them anything to add….ohhhhh.  It does cost them.  If they offer quality mental health services, people might actually use them, and insurance companies aren’t in the business of people getting services.   Not to mention that this discriminatory practice is preventing me from making a quality living.

 

This is not a quick fix.  However, we have to start somewhere.  The government needs to mandate that insurance companies allow mental health providers access to their networks just like for health.  We need to fix the issues with supply of services before we can address the demand for them.

_____________________________________________________________

It is evident from the recent increase in gun-related tragedies, like the school shooting in Connecticut, that something needs to change. Focusing on gun control is one of the obvious, and needed, choices for change. However, just focusing on gun control is like treating the symptoms of an illness as opposed to the cause.

Over the past 50 years in this country, we have seen a radical reduction in the supply of services for those people in need of mental health care. Most people with mental health disorders (even the most severe) are not violent. However, almost all of the people who commit such a violent and senseless crimes do so because of untreated mental illness. In this "highly-developed" country, people have not had adequate access to physical health care, let alone mental and behavioral healthcare. We have allowed insurance companies and managed care organizations to define mental health care as "optional" and "restricted." We have stood by as legislators that have long mismanaged State budgets cut mental health services in the first round - the "low hanging fruit" so to speak. We have allowed the stigma that people with mental illness are "broken" to continue through a total lack of adequate education and prevention programs.

We need to make sure that this nation's healthcare overhaul includes best-in-class services for mental health. The best evidence-based research supports that mental health disorders are physical illnesses of the brain. It is no longer acceptable to treat individuals with mental illness as second-class citizens (at best). Not only can we afford to make this happen, we can't afford not to.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 100,000 signatures
    2. Enough Already!

      Jason Eccker
      Petition Organizer

      Have We Reached the Tipping Point?

      Another senseless tragedy has struck our country and the outcry for solutions pervades the media. How long, though, until we forget? Until the media attention fades? Until we are shocked, again, by the next mass shooting or stabbing or bombing?

      There is not a simple solution to this problem. However, we must refuse to accept this string of violence as inherent or inevitable. Other developed countries do not have this problem. There is something in our society that needs attention.

    3. Way to go!

      Jason Eccker
      Petition Organizer

      We've broken the 75,000 mark! Please contact your local congressperson's office and let them know that you vote and that you demand better mental health care for all Americans!

    4. Reached 75,000 signatures
    5. Keep up the momentum!

      Jason Eccker
      Petition Organizer

      I'm overwhelmed by the response and personal comments related to the issue of mental health care in the US. We're close to 1000 signatures - please pass it along!

    6. Reached 500 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Theresa Kinley NORCROSS, UNITED STATES
      • 1 day ago

      My son's suicide could have been prevented if his insurer had allowed better access to treatment, The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act allow more people to seek treatment but that doesn't mean they can actually get treatment. So I have to ask: 2 years after starting this petition has anything really changed?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Melissa Camp SHERMAN, TX
      • about 1 month ago

      I have endured the agony of mental illness within my family and sought help for said individual with no avail. They end up in prison which costs taxpayer dollars and is only a revolving door for said individual. NO ONE WINS! I do believe in this great country of ours there is a better solution. I also believe our President Barack Obama believes this to be so. Please both Congress & Senate hear our plea and quit trying to be popular and do the right thing even though it hurts. Our country is better than this.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Sonya MacLeod ALAMOGORDO, NM
      • about 1 month ago

      I raised two sons with mental issues. I saw & fought first hand to get them help. Much that never happened.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • alberta Sigwalt OLNEY, MD
      • about 1 month ago

      My son suffers from mental illness and it is a horrible illness which has robbed him from having a productive life. The treatment is a disgrace. All they do is warehouse and or nothing to help them have some quality and productive life. Until you walk in their shoes you have know idea what trauma they have endured. They deserve more and better treatment. Treat your own first then help others.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Barry Krane SUFFERN, NY
      • about 1 month ago

      Disease comes on many forms, not just the physical.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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