Mental Health: When May Is Not Good Enough
Our country is calling the mental health hotline and no one is picking up.
May is mental health awareness month but why isn’t June or July or August — or any month of the year? Why do we leave it to May to bring awareness to one of the most important issues our nation is grappling with?
For 1 in 4 Americans who will suffer from a mental health condition during their lifetime, accessibility and affordability to get the help they need is losing long-term viability.
That’s not right. That’s not fair. And most importantly, that’s not human.
Americans are dying every single day because they do not have access to a mental health professional. Americans are dying every single day because they cannot afford to see a mental health professional.
May is set aside to bring awareness to our mental health crisis in hopes of better informing the public and gathering support (in any form) for those in need. The overarching goal is an expectation that somebody, somewhere, will be able to provide ground-sweeping change (in any form) that could alter the trajectory and fortune of millions of Americans.
There has been much progress on this front both on the ground and within our digital ecosystem — for which we must acknowledge and appreciate. But at the same time, it’s hard to acknowledge or appreciate that we are not considerably closer to achieving that goal than we were ten or fifteen years ago.
Social media and on the ground support has proven effective in its ability to reach millions of people who are suffering by educating them about recovery options and treatment plans.
Although, social media and on the ground support has proven even more effective in its ability to reach mental health professionals. Providers have better access to communicate with each other because infrastructure has already been put in place.
Providers also have better ability to advise one another on best fee structures, billing systems and new drugs on the market. All in all, there have been a number of ways in which money has flowed into the provider community — all of which have been working as the months and years pass by.
But what does this all mean for providers and their patients?
The simple answer is that it’s impossible to measure.
However, what is possible to measure is the imbalance of power between the two sides.
Mental health professionals are gaining more access to resources, tools, and information to better provide their patients with cutting-edge technology and support.
Concurrently, mental health professionals are gaining more access to opportunities to make money. Providers are maximizing earnings by taking advantage of insurance loopholes or deciding not to take insurance in the first place — among many others.
The irony could not be more apparent.
While the professional community is benefiting from mental health advancements, their patients are not.
While the professional community is benefitting from opportunities to make money and cut down on cost, their patients are losing access and the ability to seek-out the help they desperately need.
The disparity between those who are profiting during our mental health crisis vs those who are not is striking.
Perhaps finding ways to level the playing field between providers and their patients is one option to start course correcting access and affordability for both sides of the same coin.
Then maybe we can stop justifying tangential reasons as to why we’re in crisis mode and talk abut ways to redress the balance—and not just in May.