Probably the biggest news about this issue in recent memory is the passage of the latest Mental Health Parity Act, requiring insurance companies to extend the same level of benefits toward individuals’ mental and physical well-being. Some companies have raised rates to “compensate,” but the research has been very clear for decades that utilization of medical benefits declines when mental health benefits are equally available, resulting in a cost savings!
Legal recognition of the equal importance of mental and physical health is long overdue. But sometimes still lagging is the world of practice, a fact that continues to affect folks. Older health care professionals were taught that “we have a mind and we have a body”, as if the two were separate, and the professional should focus only on their “territory”. Some continue to practice this way, despite the fact that psychological and medical science have confirmed for many years that we do live in “mind-body systems” whose parts are interrelated in complex ways.
This principle — interconnected mind-body health — is the foundation of all modern health care, beginning with the understanding that we are all primarily responsible for managing our own well-being. It’s great to see the progress in understanding in our society represented in “mental health parity”.