September 8, 2018

to: Legislators belonging to the mental health initiative committee

from: Diamond marie breland

subject: Buidling bridges to accessible mental health care

CC: Dr. Nandan kumar jhA


The inaccessibility to Mental Health has become problematic in the United States. Each year, millions of Americans with mental illness struggle to find care. Nearly half of the 60 million adults and children living with mental health conditions in the United States go without any treatment. People who do seek treatment must navigate a fragmented and costly system full of obstacles. Many people cannot access mental health care when they most need it. Despite the passage of federal mental health and addictions parity law in 2008, significant barriers exist in accessing mental health treatment and support. Barriers include high rates of denials of care by insurers, high out-of-pocket costs for mental health care, difficulties accessing psychiatric medications and problems finding psychiatrists and other mental health providers in health insurance networks. In 2016, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, conducted its third nationwide survey to explore the relationship between health coverage and access to mental health care. The survey found that people with mental illness continue to experience significant barriers to finding affordable, accessible mental health care. These barriers exist whether the person is covered by private insurance or by a public plan such as Medicaid.

Specific Challenges

Difficulty finding a new provider

Current Providers are overwhelmed

Not enough providers to meet demand

Providers are not located in areas of high need

Providers are not responding to inquires

Out of Pocket Costs are too high making it unaffordable

Lack of inpatient mental health care facilities

The stigma surrounding mental health treatment

Future Challenges

If the inaccessibility to mental health services isn’t resolved, this can lead to complicating and detrimental challenges in other sectors of society.

An increase in homelessness

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 20 to 25% of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness. In comparison, only 6% of Americans are severely mentally ill (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009).

An increase in incarceration rates

As a result, 2 million people with mental illness are booked into jails each year. Nearly 15% of men and 30% of women booked into jails have a serious mental health condition. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009).

An increase in avoidable emergency room visits

Between 2007 and 2011, the rate of ED visits related to M/SUDs increased by over 15 percent (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). ED visits involving M/SUDs are considered potentially avoidable—if these conditions were adequately managed through appropriate outpatient care, then ED visits should be rare (Owens, et all. 2017).


Policy Analysis on the problem of mental health care being inaccessible needs to happen fast as people are falling victim to their untreated mental health illnesses. Mental health illness is a contributor to other negative events that are occurring in our country. By addressing the mental health of our citizens, we are giving people the ability to continue their pursuit of happiness in this country. Inaccessibility to Mental health in a public health crisis where the cure can be found through policy analysis. We ask that you allot funding to research the best practices to address the challenges set forth in this memo. Exploration and implementation cannot be done without support from your legislation.

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