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What are the Different Types of Mental Health Policy?

By Florence J. Tipton
Updated May 23, 2024
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Mental health policy deals with care and services for people who suffer from mental illnesses. In general, mental health policies focus on mental health care and treatment, housing, and mental health parity, which determines how private insurance plans are to provide adequate benefits. Mental health care advocates push for policy initiatives that ensure fairness exists to improve the quality of life for people with mental health conditions. Most countries have some type of mental health policy in place that centers on the way activities are implemented in the mental health community.

Policy initiatives for mental health care services ensure that people with mental health disorders receive equal access to health care treatment and services. This mental health policy attempts to eliminate inadequate health care that could exacerbate mental illness. Professionals in the mental health field believe that access to proper health care treatments can have a positive impact on existing mental conditions. It is suggested that this type of mental health policy include a continuum of care for mental health patients.

Regional authorities that govern mental health care policy tackle insurance practices that may deny coverage for certain health issues. This denial is typically based on classifying mental disorders as a pre-existing condition that is related to the health issue. Health care policies for people with mental disorders shift the focus on preventative and long-term care that may contribute to a person’s total well-being.

Tied to health care is the type of mental health treatment that people can expect from a mental health facility. Policies that govern mental health facilities within a country will usually pertain to the living conditions in a facility. Minimum standards are set for the construction and available resources needed to provide treatment. Another aspect that is generally included is the requirement that mental health professionals are licensed and skilled to provide proper diagnosis and treatment for mental illnesses.

Lack of housing is considered a fundamental barrier to the chances for improvement to a person’s mental health condition. Local and regional assistance programs are typically designed to supplement housing costs. Generally, mental health housing policies call for earmarking adequate funding to ensure affordable housing is accessible. A mental health policy for housing is considered effective when other support systems are available. In conjunction with a sufficient housing policy, supportive services may encourage independent living for people with mental disorders.

In the United States, the Mental Health Parity Act requires ample financial benefits in employer-sponsored health plans for mental health services. Many countries have adopted a similar mental health policy. Provisions for mental health benefits are expected to have amounts that are equal to the amounts allocated for medical care. The goal is to remove the restraints on the financial requirement and subsequent treatment for mental disorders.

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Discussion Comments
By fify — On Jan 23, 2014

Most people think that mental health law means using tax payer money to sedate someone for the rest of their life. When the general public is so clueless about the different types of mental illness and their management, how can we expect insurance companies and policy makers to understand what these patients need?

By burcidi — On Jan 23, 2014

@SarahGen-- Many health insurance companies charge higher co-payments for mental health problems. This has been the case even though there is a law that says that mental health has to be treated equally to physical illness. I think the government is working on this though, they are trying to make insurance companies comply with the law.

I actually can't blame the insurance companies entirely because they are businesses that are trying to make money. Some mental illnesses are not curable and chronic which means that the patient needs constant care. That means a lot of money for the insurance company and that's why they try to avoid it.

I guess this is where government public health policies come in. The government needs to have special programs/insurance available for patients with mental illness.

By SarahGen — On Jan 23, 2014

I can't believe that some insurance policies would deny coverage for some mental health issues. So what if it is a pre-existing condition? Do they mean that the illness is genetic or hereditary? Heart disease and diabetes are hereditary too, but insurance companies cover those.

Perhaps if insurance companies didn't make distinctions in regards to mental health problems, these type of policies would not be necessary. This is yet another problem of the US private insurance health care system.

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