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Running head: HEALTH POLICY ANALYSIS – ACCESS TO MENTALHEALTH SERVICES1Health Policy Analysis – Access to Mental Health ServicesIndiana Wesleyan University
HEALTH POLICY ANALYSIS – ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES2Health Policy Analysis – Access to Mental Health ServicesIn the United States, mental illness is increasing in prevalence and access to adequatemental health care services becoming an essential topic of discussion. Approximately 1 in 5adults experiences mental illness in a given year (National Alliance on Mental Health, 2019).Mental illness can be defined in many forms, from severe diagnosis that interferes with one’sdaily life activities to depressive episodes. Without access to mental health resources, manypeople leave their mental health needs unaddressed resulting in adverse outcomes includingreduced quality of life, increased rates of poverty and homelessness, and more individuals withserious mental illness becoming incarcerated. Not only does this affect the individuals suffering,but it also affects their loved ones or caregivers and has a lasting social and economic effect onsociety. There are many stakeholders involved in making policy decisions for improvingaccessibility of mental health services, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS),private insurance providers, federally run prison systems, community resource centers andmental health workers.BackgroundMental health has historically been a taboo topic and still carries a stigma. Dating back tothe 18th century, mentally ill people were cared for by being committed to insane asylums,isolating them from society without treating their disorders (Lumen Learning, n.d). It was notuntil 1963, did Congress pass an act which provided federal support for community mentalhealth centers and allowed for deinstitutionalization. Understanding the history of mental healthcare paints a picture of the vulnerable population that needs community support and resources.While the introduction of community centers provided a treatment option to individuals in need,they lacked the resources that provided coordination for other types of necessary supports such
HEALTH POLICY ANALYSIS – ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES3as housing, food, or job training, resulting in the problem we have today with high rates ofhomelessness and incarceration for those with mental illness. On average, nearly 1.2 millionpeople are living with mental illness in jails and prisons each year (Mental Health America,2019). According to The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights (n.d.), incarceratingpeople with serious mental illness (SMI) raises many ethical and security issues. Research hasshown that mentally ill prisoners are disproportionately placed in solitary confinement due tobehavioral and disciplinary infractions, causing their mental health and stability to deterioratecontinuously. Individuals who are released after they are incarcerated have a different perception