Take your mental health seriously

During his term as President, George W. Bush signed into law the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

The act means health care providers would have to provide the same level of coverage for those with mental health orders or addictions as they do for physical ailments.

Up until now, very little has been done to enforce that act, according to CNN.

CNN’s article tells of how hospitals covered 30-day coverage for those suffering from strokes, but only two-day coverage for those who suffered from psychotic breaks. Also, those with mental health issues cannot be denied coverage for “preexisting conditions” like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke in Washington Nov. 8, detailing how the Affordable Health Care Act would include more stringent enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

Long story short: Moves are being made to take mental health as seriously as physical health. And if all goes according to plan, it will be easier to receive mental health care.

We say it’s about time.

According to Oakland University’s own GRASP group, one in five Americans suffers from some form of mental illness. This means you probably know somebody with an issue, even you don’t even realize it. Conversely, only 17 percent of Americans are in “optimal mental health.”

“If left untreated, mental health issues can have serious effects on your relationships, school or work,” the GRASP page reads. “Some individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol or withdraw from people and activities they once enjoyed. Some individuals may feel lost or helpless. This may lead an individual to consider suicide”

Mental health care has been difficult or prohibitively expensive for far too many. According to the National Association for the Mentally Ill, 22 veterans die of suicide every day.

Last year, suicide took the lives of more active-duty military personnel than combat did, according to NPR.

Mental health is no laughing matter, and social stigmas have gone on long enough. Just like not every physical ailment can be fixed with the same treatment, not all mental illnesses are characterized in the same way.

Health experts and U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez have both praised the expansion of the act, according to NBC.

With any luck, help will be easier to find starting next year. But the government can only do so much. The rest is up to you.

While there is no one set of symptoms to look out for, the first step is to take mental illness seriously. Social stigmas do more harm than good. Just as you wouldn’t shun your friend for suddenly having a pair of crutches, you should hear out a friend who complains of feeling anxious or depressed more often than usual.

For those who believe they may have an issue with mental health, talk to a professional. Help is available at the OU Counseling Center, the SEHS Counseling Center and more, according to GRASP.

Whether you’re dealing with mental illness or helping a friend or loved one with it, nobody should have to face the issue alone. Get the help you an as soon as possible, and take comfort knowing more help will be on the way soon.