Mental Health Policy

May 10, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 18
Can access to mental health services be improved?
By Barbara Mantel


Demonstrators support a decision to charge police officers (Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian)
Demonstrators support a decision to charge police officers in Fullerton, Calif., in the beating death of a schizophrenic homeless man, 37-year-old Kelly Thomas. In January 2013 a judge declined to drop charges against the three officers, who have pleaded not guilty. Last year the city paid $1 million to Thomas' mother to settle her wrongful death civil suit. (Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian)

An estimated 58 million American adults, or one in four, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Eleven million live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression. Yet it can take years for some individuals to see a mental health professional. Some don't want help, but the majority say treatment is often unaffordable. Others don't know where to go for treatment or say that insurance coverage isn't adequate. The contentious debate over gun control since the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been accompanied by a less polarizing discussion about improving access to mental health care. Still, some proposals have split mental health advocates, including encouraging states to make court-ordered outpatient treatment easier to obtain. In addition, critics say new definitions of mental illnesses will lead to over-diagnosis. Meanwhile, insurers and patient advocates struggle to interpret federal laws requiring equal treatment of mental and physical illnesses.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mental Health
Mar. 24, 2023  Aging and Mental Health
Jul. 01, 2022  Youth Mental Health
Jul. 31, 2020  COVID-19 and Mental Health
Oct. 11, 2019  The Insanity Defense
Jul. 12, 2019  Suicide Crisis
Mar. 13, 2015  Prisoners and Mental Illness
Dec. 05, 2014  Treating Schizophrenia
Sep. 12, 2014  Teen Suicide
May 10, 2013  Mental Health Policy
Aug. 03, 2012  Treating ADHD
Jun. 01, 2012  Traumatic Brain Injury
Jun. 26, 2009  Treating Depression
Feb. 13, 2004  Youth Suicide
Feb. 06, 2004  Mental Illness Medication Debate
Mar. 29, 2002  Mental Health Insurance
Feb. 08, 2002  Treating Anxiety
Jul. 16, 1999  Childhood Depression
Jun. 18, 1999  Boys' Emotional Needs
Sep. 12, 1997  Mental Health Policy
Aug. 19, 1994  Prozac
Aug. 06, 1993  Mental Illness
Oct. 09, 1992  Depression
Jun. 14, 1991  Teenage Suicide
Jul. 08, 1988  Biology Invades Psychology
Feb. 13, 1987  The Mentally Ill
Aug. 20, 1982  Mental Health Care Reappraisal
Jun. 12, 1981  Youth Suicide
Sep. 21, 1979  Mental Health Care
Sep. 15, 1978  Brain Research
Jul. 05, 1974  Psychomedicine
Aug. 08, 1973  Emotionally Disturbed Children
Dec. 27, 1972  Mental Depression
Mar. 24, 1972  Schizophrenia: Medical Enigma
Apr. 21, 1971  Approaches to Death
Mar. 03, 1971  Encounter Groups
Nov. 25, 1970  Psychological Counseling of Students
Feb. 19, 1969  Future of Psychiatry
Feb. 02, 1966  New Approaches to Mental Illness
Jan. 22, 1964  Insanity as a Defense
Sep. 25, 1963  Anatomy of Suicide
Nov. 20, 1957  Drugs and Mental Health
Apr. 23, 1954  Mental Health Programs
Jul. 09, 1948  Mental Health
Medicaid and Medicare
Mental Health