QUALITY Mental Health Treatment For ALL
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During the election, for one of the first times in politics we had candidates run on the promise to make mental health treatment accessible to all. Although we completely support this mission, the current mental health system is broken. Patients hospitalized in a psych ward are 100-200x more likely to die by suicide upon release; therefore, making the current system more accessible is simply not good enough. In 2021, we still live in a world where quality mental health is a privilege not a right. Below, we have addressed the biggest problems in the current system and recommendations for resolving them.
We strongly believe that every individual deserves the right to quality mental healthcare that sets them up for success and recovery.
We ask you to read through these problems and solutions, and join us in the fight to make quality mental health care accessible to ALL by adding your signature.
Evaluations: Patients are not evaluated thoroughly upon admission.
We feel that a proper evaluation consists of three professionals (minimum of 1 psychiatrist and 1 psychologist) who compare notes before determining a diagnosis and creating a treatment plan.
The first 24-48 hours after a patient is admitted should be an evaluation period where a patient is assigned a case manager who works with 3 licensed professionals to develop the right treatment plan from the number of individual and group therapy sessions to proper medication (if prescribed), post admission treatment plan, and resources.
Medication Distribution: Patients are required to take a standard medication without a thorough evaluation.
The same medications will not work well for individuals living with different mental illness, and some patients may not react well to certain medications.
We should not prescribe medication without a formal evaluation and diagnosis.
Patients should also be given an opportunity to deny medication and have a 24–48-hour period where they can continue without medication. If after that period, the licensed professionals on the case feel medication is necessary, then the patient will be required to take it.
Also, it is important to note that not all patients can afford continued medication after discharge. This should be taken into consideration prior to prescribing medication, because if they start while admitted and then have to stop, the patient is now back to square one.
Treatment Plans: Patients are not assigned an effective treatment plan during admission.
After the 24–48-hour evaluation period, over the next 24 hours, a patient should work with an assigned case manager to develop a treatment plan. The treatment plan should involve a mix of both individual and group therapy sessions, as well as resources and coping mechanisms.
Individual Therapy Sessions: Individual therapy sessions are typically not offered, specifically not regularly during admission.
Patients should receive consistent individual therapy sessions focused on exploring what led them to admission, relevant trauma from the past, and transitioning to life outside the institution / facility.
We recommend daily or every other day to ensure the patient is safe and ready to transition back home.
Group Therapy Sessions: Group therapy sessions are a great opportunity to explore coping mechanisms in a safe and fun environment; however, not enough variety is provided within the coping mechanisms.
Patients should have the opportunity to explore a range of coping mechanisms during group therapy.
Patients should also not be “marked off” for not attending group therapy sessions that do not feel right or comfortable for them.
There should be specific groups created for specific problems. For example, there should be specific groups for individuals experiencing suicidal ideation / anxiety / depression / schizophrenia.
Behavioral Health Facilities / Psych Wards / Mental Hospitals should provide all patients with a completed workbook post release with the treatment plan they followed during admission, their recommended treatment plan post admission, a comprehensive list of coping mechanisms, local affordable options for therapy / counseling, crisis hotline and text line numbers, and a supportive message.
Behavioral Health Facilities / Psych Wards / Mental Hospitals should also have a range of approved movies, books, art supplies, journals, games, etc. that are constantly available for patients to use. This would be a great way for patients to explore different coping mechanisms that may work for them and create their “coping toolbox.”
Treatment Costs: Many patients leave the mental health treatment facility drowning in bills from their admission on top of any additional costs (such as ER visits and ambulance).
The federal or state government should reallocate more funding toward Behavioral Health Facilities / Psych Wards / Mental Hospitals to help cover the costs of treatment. If the costs were significantly reduced, this would help transitioning to life post admission more feasible and less stressful.
Follow Up: After discharge, patients are thrown out into the world with no one checking in on them.
Every hospital should have a case manager that checks in with the patients on a routine basis.
We recommend: a monthly check in for the first year, a bi-annual check in for the second year, and then annual check ins afterward. If the case manager feels the individual should be re-evaluated, they may call them in for a FREE evaluation appointment to see if treatment plans need to be adjusted.
Federal and State Funding For Mental Health Facilities: Currently, we have the majority of states operating at around 1% of the total budget going toward mental health AND many insurance policies not efficiently covering mental health treatment and medications.
We strongly encourage the Federal Government to increase spending on mental health and set a minimum per capita spending on mental health to ensure all states are allocating enough money toward making these improvements.
We would also like to see the Supreme Court make legislation that requires insurance companies to cover a decent percentage of mental health treatment and medications to ensure it is affordable for ALL, not just the privileged.
Furthermore, we need our State Governments to enforce equal distribution of funds per capita to every mental hospital. Funding should be based on city population size and need, not based on wealth.
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