The Insurance Parity Bugaboo

Now we have mental health insurance parity. This is something I have never supported. As certain people have pointed out, from a financial stand point of view, one is only mentally ill until the insurance runs out. I see mental health parity as a way to guarantee this insurance never runs out, and thus as a way to insure the patient never completely recovers. Mental health insurance then becomes a way to legitimize the ‘disease’, reinforce the diagnosis, and frustrate all recovery efforts.

You’ve got a broken mental health system. People, who could be recovering from their upsets in life, are not recovering. Instead they are being warehoused. Now they are not being warehoused in a state hospital as they had been in the past, they are rather being warehoused within a community. This is an improvement over what was, but it is still problematic. This warehousing has resulted in what we may refer to as the mental health ghetto. People ‘in treatment’, who are not productive members of society at large, inhabit this ghetto, people who are essentially artificial invalids.

The problem here is first you are dealing with people undergoing personal crises. This personal crisis is what is commonly referred to as a mental illness. In reaction to this crisis, either voluntarily or involuntarily, a person has been admitted into a hospital. The repercussions of this hospitalization are immense. The person in crisis could lose their job, their residence and property, their friends and family, etc. When we talk of recovery usually we are only referring to the recovery of mental stability, but this is only where recovery starts.

You have a person who has been critically injured socially and economically, not to mention chemically through psychiatric drug use, even after his or her thought process has been restored to something approaching what it had been before hospitalization. Communities are seldom willing to go the extra nine yards for these individuals that are required if the person is to succeed. The person may go from a state hospital into an apartment in the community, but this doesn’t restore this person as a functioning working member of society. We are still doing little more than subsidizing the wastrels we have created through this disruption of life events at institutionalization.

Poverty can become a big hole from which there is no climbing out of and advancing into prosperity. This same poverty is associated with failure. The real failure is the mental health system’s. This poverty only describes its clientele, and not its employees. The employees pull their salaries primarily from the fees the clientele pay with their federal financial assistance benefits. The employees then are paid in effect to keep their clients impoverished. We should instead be paying these mental health workers to get people out of poverty rather than keeping them in it.