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Mental illness is highly common in the United States. Data presented from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that twenty-one percent of all U.S. adults, which is equal to an estimated 52.9 million adults aged eighteen or older, in America live with AMI (any mental illness). Of the nearly one in five adults with AMI, 24.3 million (46.2%) received mental health services in the past year. As Mental Health Month, also known as Mental Health Awareness Month, the month of May aims to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness, and to celebrate recovery from mental illness. 

Mental Health Month was established in 1949 by Mental Health America (MHA). Mental Health America was founded by Clifford W. Beers in 1909 and is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting overall mental health. In the months preceding May, each year Mental Health America selects a different theme and releases a toolkit of materials to guide preparation for outreach activities for Mental Health Awareness Month. The theme of MHA’s 2022 Mental Health Month Toolkit is “Back to Basics.” As is stated by Mental Health America, with this theme, “Our goal is to provide foundational knowledge about mental health and mental health conditions and information about what people can do if their mental health is a cause for concern.” Prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can recover from mental health disorders.

There are a variety of successful efforts that have raised awareness about the importance of mental health and promoted acceptance, support, prevention, and recovery from these mental health conditions, some of which include:

  • The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was passed into federal law. This act stipulates that insurance companies are no longer able to deny coverage or discriminate against individuals that struggle with substance abuse and/ or addiction, and further, requires health insurance providers to offer benefits for substance abuse and mental health services that are equal to those for other medical and surgical services
  • The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into federal law by President Obama in 2010. The purpose for signing the ACA into law was threefold: to create affordable health insurance coverage, enabling more individuals to obtain healthcare; to expand the Medicaid program; and to support “innovative medical care delivery methods designed to lower the cost of health care generally.” Prior to the passing of this law, insurance companies were not obligated to cover pre-existing conditions. The ACA requires all health insurance plans to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, the ACA stipulates that health insurance companies are obligated to provide similar coverage for the treatment of all diagnosable mental illness. 
  • The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant is dedicated to improving public mental health service systems across the country. It provides financial assistance to help build and support the community-based public mental health system with comprehensive mental health services and evidence-based practices for adults with serious mental illnesses and children with severe emotional disturbances.

It is important to bear in mind that there are a variety of mental health treatment options (e.g., traditional, holistic, creative, etc.) available to those in need, and the path of recovery will not be the same for everyone. The mental health treatment process is entirely personal, and it will be directly informed by one’s personality, mental health, and emotional needs. Mental Health Month provides the opportunity to celebrate the tremendous progress America has made in promoting mental health and increasing knowledge that effective services and support are available.

Upwell Advisors offers premier access to experts in the mental health, addiction, and wellness spaces for all stages of growth and recovery, from crisis to wellness, in a private one-on-one environment for individuals and their families.

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