The ACA and Teen Mental Health

aca blog

Mental health is a major issue in the United States, especially in high school teens. There are many stigmas associated with mental illnesses that, in some cases, lead to cases going untreated. One of the most common mental illnesses that teens face today is depression. Some symptoms of depression can often be misconceived as part of school stresses or being a teen. The “treatment” for depression can sometimes be antidepressants. Drugs never fix the problem, they just suppress the symptoms, thus in the long term, that needed care is being delayed and prolonged. For some teenagers, antidepressants often don’t get to the core of the problem or discuss the source of that depression. Sometimes talking to a professional does help. What if a family cannot afford the cost of “talking to someone”? Why the Affordable Care Act may be able to help…

In 2010, the ACA authorized $50 million towards the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This money is funneled towards providing “co-location grants” to provide behavioral treatment options in communities. Furthermore, in expanding Medicaid, the ACA is providing more funds to help states’ abilities to create these community-based homes and programs for people who are suffering from long term chronic mental illnesses. Now that the average person can stay under their parents’ health insurance, teenagers can have a more prolonged system of care and help to deal with depression and other mental illnesses. Other legal improvements to the Medicaid is improving health facilities,federally qualified, to have behavioral health programs and care.Does that mean that the ACA fixes everything? Is everything suddenly better and Americans have wiped out depression entirely? No. There are still teenagers depressed and millions of people suffer from various mental illnesses in America. But, there is a faint light at the end of the tunnel.

The ACA does not magically gets rid of depression or cures other mental health issues.  However, it does create programs about mental illnesses to educate against stereotypes and encourage teenagers to seek medical help that they need. Mental health is part of overall health, and the ACA is advocating to shed some lights on it.

Written by Stephane Alexandre

Sources:

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1108649

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-and-high-school-students/index.shtml

http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/effects/

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/tep/1/2/105/

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