Behavioral HealthIn this discussion, I will be discussing two public policies that have been adopted to improve access to behavioral health services and treatment. The first public policy to improve behavioral health services and treatment is the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 (Veldhuis,2021). This established policy, impacts large companies with employee-sponsored group health plans. This law prohibits companies from imposing higher annual or lifetime rates on mental health benefits than those applicable to medical or surgical benefits. This law was strengthened in 2008, when it also added benefits for substance abuse. The second public policy is the Americans with Disability Act. This public health policy for behavioral health, prevents employers from discriminating against qualified employees on the basis of disability, and the law specifically states that mental health disorders are included in the definition of disability.The Affordable Care Act was seen as a turning point, as the public stakeholder for children and adolescent behavioral health in America. The national Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (2016) states that the ACA required insurance plans to conduct health assessments and pre-screening tools for children, as well as the depression scale used for adults. These screening tools provide access and affordability for families of all backgrounds to receive proper behavioral health services. Currently, the ACA and the CHIP program cover 1 in 3 children in the U.S. The struggle that remains with the ACA plan, is the integration of other services for children to include proper follow up and ongoing services for complete coordination of care. The private stakeholders such as Aetna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, etc, continue to explain that the challenges they face is at the payment level for how behavioral services are delivered and by whom. Primary care physicians can prescribe medications, but can not continue to evaluate the patient throughout their time on the drug. The private insurers, then have to evaluate the claims they receive and need to determine if the patient was cured or not, or if even the care was high quality or not (Friedlander, 2016).The National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI, is an organization that continues to support those with mental health conditions ( NAMI believes that people with mental health conditions deserve to have accessible, affordable and comprehensive health care. NAMI believes in community behavioral services. NAMI offers 24/7 mobile access teams and crisis stabilization that comes to the patient, not waiting for the patient to seek out services on their own. NAMI receives an enhanced Medicaid reimbursement rate for anticipated costs, so people can receive care regardless of ability to pay for services. This improves the follow through for behavioral health services and continued counseling and care. NAMI also works with community partners like the criminal justice system on de-escalation techniques, providing guidance for families and caregivers and expanding community centers for comprehensive community mental health.Mental Health America, is an organization, that advocates for legislation that affects the lives of people with mental illness and their families ( This organization works with lawmakers, community partners, hospitals and preventative medicine partners to integrate as many services as possible to those with mental illness. MHA speaks to those with a mental illness and asks what they need, how can policies be more effective for them, instead of telling them what they need. The MHA works to break the stigma of mental health being taboo, and incorporating recovery as overall wellness. The MHA also works to protect those with mental illness. Since 1909, the MHA has worked to improve the quality of treatment, prioritizing mental health and to work to have treating those with a mental or behavioral illness, be treated with dignity. The organization also works with homelessness, incarceration and discrimination. The MHA works to diagnose early identification of illness, intervene for those at risk, and continue the recovery process as recovery is the goal. Their continuation of working with insurance providers, will continue to have people incorporate mental health into their regular routines.References Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). Opportunities to Promote Children’s Behavioral Health., C.B., Stuart, E., Fallin, M. D. (2021) Five urgent public health policies to combat the mental health effects of COVID-19. Health Affairs Blog, January 27, 2021. https://doi:10.1377/hblog20210122.959001

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