Make Mental Healthcare an Essential Service

November 15, 2012 Natasha Tracy

It should surprise no one that I consider mental healthcare an essential service for people. Now, I live in Canada and this means that I can get the care I need without paying for it, but people in the United States are not so lucky. I have to constantly hear about people who can’t get the care they need because of the limits placed on them by insurance companies.

And this is wrong.

Mental healthcare is as essential as any other kind of healthcare. If you have a broken leg, you expect treatment, and if you have a broken brain, you should expect the same thing.

Mental Healthcare Parity

In the United States, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was supposed to ensure parity for mental health with other health procedures provided by insurance. Nevertheless, it seems that insurance companies have no trouble finding loopholes that do unconscionable things like kick people out of hospitals two days after a suicide attempt and deny standard treatments which are deemed “unnecessary.” I have heard story after story of people who can’t get the care they need because of insurance limitations. People hate pharmaceutical companies? I hate insurance companies more.

So I urge Americans to engage their politicians on these issues. One way of doing this is by signing a White House petition. This petition is to “Include mental health care as a category in the Essential Health Benefits as described in the Affordable Care Act.

Politicians commonly do not address the concerns of people with mental health issues but enough signatures on this petition and the White House will be forced to address the issue.

Why Isn’t There True Mental Healthcare Parity?

I believe there isn’t true mental healthcare parity because health insurance companies know they can get away with treating people with a mental illness like second-class citizens. They know that not enough people care. They know that not enough people speak out. They know that there is a stigma against mental illness. They know that people don’t want to stand up and admit to a mental illness.

But you don’t have to have a mental illness to see that healthcare for mental illness matters. Because one day your sister, or father, or friend, or child, or spouse is going to be intimately touched by a mental illness and they are going to need treatment. And that treatment needs to be there. To save his or her life and to save you the pain that the lack-of-treatment will cause.

Don’t wait until you have to fight an unfair system to save the life of a loved one. Join now to support all the people who are willing to fight on your behalf.

(And before I get letters on this, this isn’t about politics, it’s about healthcare. And all politicians need to address that.)

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2012, November 15). Make Mental Healthcare an Essential Service, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Paul Komarek
November, 20 2012 at 6:21 am

Healthcare is all about politics, culture and money. Thank you for highlighting this issue. Healthcare needs to be ordinary, affordable and available.

November, 19 2012 at 12:57 am

From what I have read on the HHS website, mental health and substance abuse treatment will be considered essential services. However, I don't know what that will mean in terms of coverage details- they aren't putting that kind of info out yet.

November, 18 2012 at 11:56 am

Hi Natasha
I love your red hair
from karen england

November, 16 2012 at 3:59 pm

I have a good one, my insurance happily paid for ECT, but would not cover anesthesia....really??? what are they thinking. It is tough always having tx dictated by the insurance. I can't tell you how many times I have had hospitals discharge early to "save" days in case further tx is needed in that calendar year. I only have 30 days allotted. It is so very sad. B- thebipolarfarmer

November, 16 2012 at 8:13 am

Hi Natasha! People in addition can also email their congressmen to draw their attention to parity for mental illness.

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