In the wake of a number of national tragedies, the gun control debate has made mental illness one of the focal points of the debate. However, mental illness is a much larger issue than a few national news stories. For many, suffering from mental illness is a daily war with themselves. In general, mentally ill people are actually more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators of violent crime. Many of these victimized, mentally ill individuals could benefit significantly from adequate mental healthcare. However, there are a number of major reasons why mental health has been on the backburner for lawmakers.
An evolving understanding about mental illness, its treatment, and diagnosis has led to a number of changes in the ways in which we think about such issues. Recently, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reissued its fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which updated and redefined many mental illnesses, including altering the definition for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many wartime veterans suffer from PTSD and, as the understanding of how to properly diagnose veterans and treat them evolves, so too can the impact veteran mental illness has on society.
With an increased understanding of mental illness, it may be possible to intervene at an earlier time and with a higher success level. If help can be granted when immediately needed, perhaps fewer people will have long-term damage to their lives. The backlog for benefits from the VA causes people to be required to wait up to two years for access to mental health treatment, even once they have decided to seek it out. Frequently, individuals suffering from PTSD, depression, and other mental disorders are reticent to seek professional counseling because they are ashamed by the illness. Similarly, other individuals who don’t understand mental illness may be unhelpful and critical. However, early detection of mental illness and quality treatment may prevent tragedies from occurring, particularly the veteran suicide rate. Every day 22 veterans commit suicide.
Veterans are not the only people who suffer from mental illness, of course. According to a recent press conference, President Obama indicated that only 40% of people who suffer from mental illness are receiving treatment. Many of those suffering may be children or teenagers whose problems only increase over time. In contrast with other diseases, where a rate of only 40% being treated would be a public health nightmare, mental health is not gathering the attention or interest necessary to substantially improve matters. Obamacare is expected to expand mental health coverage to 60 million people by the time the program is fully implemented. The onus remains on those suffering, however, to use the coverage.
Depression and other disorders may begin at any time, but may not improve without treatment. Paying for treatment, however, can be a financial burden, particularly in old age. Planning in advance for payment through the use of a QMap Trust or QVap Trust could make payments easier if you use Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) or VA Aid & Attendance Non Service Connected Disability Benefit to pay for your medical needs.
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