BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today issued the following statement recognizing the importance of May 2015 as National Mental Health Awareness Month.
“Mental illness directly touches tens of millions of Americans each year. Roughly half of American adults will develop at least one mental illness during the course of their lives, and, in a given year, 1 in 4 American adults — more than 60 million people — experience some form of mental illness. Despite the prevalence of mental illness in this country, our society often does not lend mental illness the attention it deserves.
“Thankfully, evidence-based treatment for mental illnesses can be very effective. Fewer than half of those in need in the U.S., however, receive any mental health care. This is simply unacceptable. Stigma, costs and other barriers, such as limited capacity in some areas to serve all of those in need, prevent many from receiving vitally necessary mental health care. This National Mental Health Awareness Month, it is imperative that we act to improve access across our country to high-quality, evidence-based mental health care services.
“This National Mental Health Awareness Month, let us commit to working together to improve mental health care by building on the success of the hard-working men and women nationwide who dedicate themselves to providing lifesaving services to our family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors.”
Earlier this month, Senator Cardin joined members of The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) as Honorary Co-Chair of the Annual 2015 NAMIWalks in Maryland. He also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Mosaic Integrated Healthcare Center, a state-of-the-art facility in Baltimore providing essential mental health services, substance abuse treatment and primary care services to the community.
In the Senate, Senator Cardin has introduced legislation to extend the duration of a demonstration project that allows individuals experiencing an emergency psychiatric crisis to receive the care they need to get better and recover, avoiding the revolving door of emergency room visits, relapses, jail, homelessness and death. The Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act of 2015 (S.599) would extend the Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration Project, which allows federal Medicaid matching payments to freestanding psychiatric hospitals for the emergency inpatient psychiatric care of severely mentally ill individuals between the ages of 21 and 64.
Senator Cardin also has been working on an initiative to improve access to, and quality of, mental health care in the United States by facilitating the integration of mental health care services into the primary care setting through the Collaborative Care Model.
In the Collaborative Care Model, primary care providers treat patients with common mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, with help from a care manager and a psychiatrist who acts a consultant, reviewing patients’ progress, making treatment recommendations and sharing his or her expertise with the primary care provider and care manager. The Collaborative Care Model not only improves patient care experiences and outcomes, it also has been shown to reduce overall health care costs. One large trial, which focused on depression care in primary care clinics in five states, found substantial reductions in overall health costs, with an overall rate of return on investment of $6 in health care costs saved for each $1 spent on depression care.