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Patrick Kennedy Talks About Mental Health Treatment

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy has remained firm in advocating coverage for mental health treatment.  Earlier this month, the politician spoke at public conferences about the impact of The Parity Act of 2008 and how it helped the nation.

Advocating Coverage for Mental Health Treatment

Kennedy discussed coverage for mental health treatment by bringing up the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008, which made it a requirement that individuals dealing with substance use and mental health issues be treated by their health insurers with equal care as they would for any other medical ailment.  “You’re lucky you get treatment to begin with,”  the 47-year-old politician led to a public audience at Adler Theatre in the beginning of February.  “Two-thirds of people with mental health benefits never even avail themselves of treatment, even if they need it, because of the stigma of getting treatment.  So you can imagine someone finally works up the nerve to get treatment, and then they’re denied? The insurance companies know a certain percentage of them are just gonna go away without bothering to appeal. We need to change that.  If patients had a stroke or heart attack or some other critical issue, they wouldn’t have to spend a nanosecond calling their insurance company to see if it was going to be a covered stay or not.”

Kennedy’s background in advocating treatment for public

Despite being the youngest in Congress at the time, Kennedy built a well-renowned reputation in the House during his 16 years of representing Rhode Island until 2011.  Perhaps a reason the politician is passionate about advocating for coverage for mental health treatment is that the politician suffers from bipolar disorder.  Kennedy found himself at a rehabilitation facility for drugs at 17 years old .  Kennedy struggled with pain medication and alcohol, leading to an arrest.  According to Kennedy, he didn’t conceal his history of substance use and mental health issues.  Interestingly, the politician won by a landslide, which might be due to him having a personal understanding of substance use disorders.

Effect of Parity Bill

While Kennedy was on active duty, the Parity Bill was set in place and the initial take off was monumental.  “This country is finally treating brain illnesses like any other illness of the body,” marveled Kennedy.  “Challenges include not only payment and funding for mental-health and drug treatment services, but preventive care and early treatment.  If you have diabetes, we do not wait until you go blind or have your legs amputated, right?  We don’t wait until you have stage-four cancer and you’re at death’s door. We do screenings.”  The major impact of the Parity Bill has shaped the way treatment is provided today for substance use and mental health issues because the law makes it a requirement that these individuals be treated for their condition as they would any other type of medical ailment.  This is imperative because without proper care, an individual with mental health and/or substance use issues may not have the greatest opportunity of recovering from their disease.

Kennedy ended with an impactful statement, “The thing that has the greatest chance of killing me is my addiction and my mood disorder … Health care is health care; it’s not mental health care.”  Why is it that society remains contingent on holding this absurd idea that if something cannot be seen externally, then it must not exist?  The stigma of substance use and mental health issues must be expunged if these individuals are to be expected to get the most out of their recovery.

Are you struggling with a substance use disorder and ready to embark on changing your ways?  Contact The Watershed Texas today to start a new way of life.  You can recover and live in sobriety.  It is possible for you, so call today at 1-800-861-1768.




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