Access to mental health care
Priority: Ensure that quality mental and behavioral health care and access to psychologist providers are included in benefit plans for persons across the lifespan
A quarter of Americans have inadequate access to mental health services, according to a 2008 nationwide survey by Harris Interactive in conjunction with APA. Forty-four percent either don't have mental health coverage or aren't sure if they do.
The situation is even worse for people who have both psychological and substance abuse disorders. Almost half of adults in this population go without treatment, found a 2006 survey by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Inadequate access to psychological care doesn't just hurt those with psychological or substance abuse problems. It also hurts those with physical problems, especially those with behavior-related diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.
Ensuring access to psychological care could make a huge impact on Americans' lives.
- Depression. In any given year, almost one in 10 American adults will suffer from a depressive disorder, with a staggering cost to society. Psychologists have effective interventions for treating depression.
- Substance abuse. Substance abuse causes more illness, disability and death than any other preventable health condition, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found in 2001. Yet that same year, the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment found that two-thirds of Americans with serious substance abuse problems weren't being treated.