Summary: Mental Health Insurance Parity & Required Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions, Lower Cost of Prescription Drugs, Support Additional Providers in Rural/Shortage Areas, Funding for Services & Research

I support quality, accessible mental health care for all people.  Not only is mental illness associated with chronic, physical health problems, it can also impact the ability of people to engage with their families, workplaces, and communities.  At any given time, 25% of adults in the US have a mental illness, and almost 50% will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.  To support these individuals, their families, and loved ones, I am particularly interested in finding ways to increase access to mental health services, support research on mental health interventions and systems, and improve federal programs involving mental health services.*

To increase access to quality health care, coverage should be universal, including preventative mental health services and equal coverage for physical and mental health care issues (parity).  People with mental health histories should continue to be protected in the insurance marketplace by ensuring they cannot be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.  I am concerned about the rising cost of prescription medications. I addressed this issue in my statement on Affordable Health Care and believe my approach to this problem will also improve affordability of medications related to mental health.

Access to mental health care and preventative services could further be improved by investing in the development of health care delivery systems that integrate mental health services into primary-care settings.  Finally, access to mental health care is severely limited in many rural or “shortage” areas where there are not enough mental health providers. I support funding for training programs that create “provider pipelines” by training providers in those shortage areas as well as funding for programs that support and incentive providers in shortage areas, such as student loan repayment programs.

As a scientist myself, I support the funding of basic and applied research to improve our knowledge about preventing, diagnosing, and treating all mental illnesses.  I also support investing in research on our mental health systems to improve their efficiency to ensure we are wisely spending tax-payer dollars.  Finally, I support funding for Medicare and Medicaid, to ensure individuals with mental health histories who receive support from these programs continue to receive the mental health services they need.

Overall, I am committed to using the best scientific knowledge available to strategically support policies to improve the quality of life for people with mental illness.  I recognize people with mental illness are often among the most vulnerable members of our community and can be highly stigmatized.  I believe recovery from all forms of mental illness is possible, given access to evidence-based services and proper forms of support.  As a candidate for the US House of Representatives, if elected, I will be dedicated to supporting these policies and others like them to improve quality of and access to mental health services for all.

*These policies positions were developed by reviewing policies endorsed by the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.  Statistics cited here are available on this page of the American Psychological Association website: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/data-behavioral-health.aspx