- June 28, 2017
Sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This year, Mental Health America (MHA)’s annual conference didn’t shy away from these topics that, though hard to talk about, are also extremely important to any conversation about the real experience of living with mental health or substance use disorders.
On Wednesday, June 14th, Patrick and Amy Kennedy participated in a plenary session with MHA’s CEO Paul Gionfriddo to discuss our common struggle—living with the shame and silence around mental health and addiction. Rather than have open and honest discussions about concerns and illnesses, many families hide in silence. This silence makes people afraid to seek help, enables discrimination, and furthers an epidemic of suicide and overdose.
Risky behaviors like compulsive shopping, over-exercising, risky sexual activity, or recreational drug use may indicate more serious mental health and substance use issues. When we notice these behaviors, we have a critical opportunity to intervene and mitigate worse outcomes.
How can you be prepared to have tough conversations? These resources can help.
- Teachers, administrators, and school staff all have a role to play in destigmatizing mental health. Check out The Kennedy Forum’s Five Pillars for creating the mental health system we need in our schools.
- Normalize conversations about mental health in your classroom with these six activities.
- To effectively intervene in a situation involving mental health concerns or a crisis, training can make all the difference. Consider bringing Youth Mental Health First Aid to your school.
- Mental Health America has developed resources to help parents and children talk about mental health concerns.
- The Parity Resource Guide for Addiction & Mental Health Consumers, Providers, and Advocates contains resources to help providers better serve their patients, and even file a complaint on behalf of a patient against an accredited health plan.
- Legislators have an incredible opportunity to shape the mental health system we need. Navigating the New Frontier of Mental Health and Addiction: A Guide for the 115th Congress outlines general solutions for fixing the mental health system, as well as the steps you can take to change policy for the better.
For individuals with mental health and substance use disorders
- If you’re concerned about your mental health, use MHA’s Time to Talk resource for tips on asking for help.
- Under federal law, insurers must cover mental health and substance use services at the same level that they would cover services for other conditions. Learn more about your parity rights.
- If you believe that your parity rights have been violated and would like to file an appeal, visit our Parity Registry for resources to support you through the appeals process.
Don’t be ashamed or afraid to talk about mental health and substance use. Let’s take a page out of MHA’s book and “fight in the open.”
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Just as President Kennedy rallied the nation to dream big and set audacious goals 50 years ago, The Kennedy Forum seeks to set a new standard for the future of health care in the United States.
Our mission is big, and the stakes are clear. We seek to unite the health care system, and rally the mental health community around a common set of principles: Fully implement the 2008 parity law, bring business leaders and government agencies together to eliminate issues of stigma, work with providers to guarantee equal access to care, ensure that policymakers have the tools they need to craft better policy, and give consumers a way to understand their rights.