How Healthcare Is Changing to Cover Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues

September 14, 2016

September 14, 2016 - If you are worried about the crime and violence affecting America right now, you are not alone. According to a Gallup Poll[1], about 53 percent of Americans now say they worry “a great deal” about crime and violence, more than in any year since 2001. With mass shootings dominating the news and drug overdoses at record highs, there is a lot to be concerned about.

Fortunately, steps are being taken to get to the root of these issues and address them in a real and effective way. Since people are at the heart of the crime and violence issues plaguing America today, providing help for people in need is necessary in order to begin mitigating violence and reducing drug use.

Many health insurance plans are now offering assistance with covering mental health and substance abuse services. All plans offered through the health insurance marketplace are required to provide coverage for mental health and substance abuse issues and many private health insurance agencies have begun to get onboard.

This movement may help survivors of disasters like the Orlando shooting to seek counseling and may also help to prevent future attacks. By removing the stigmas associated with mental health and drug abuse issues and making it possible for people to get the help they need, we may provide a better support system that allows people to seek alternatives to drugs and violence.

Counseling for Disaster Survivors

Survivors of incidents of gun violence and the loved ones of those lost or injured in the attacks may react with a stress response. If resources are not provided to help survivors and loved ones work through the emotional reaction to disasters, conditions such as depression and PTSD may develop.

In recognition of this need for support after disasters, many agencies have begun to train emergency responders to recognize signs of PTSD and other severe reactions to traumatic events. Behavioral health treatment locator apps have also been made available to assist survivors of attacks and their loved ones. By helping to cover costs of these services, insurance agencies do their part to help communities recover from these types of disasters. Additionally, introducing health insurance coverage that allows individuals to seek counseling, receive treatment, engage in peer support programs, and receive medications to assist with existing mental disorders may be a small step towards preventing these types of man-made disasters in the future.

Substance Abuse and Disasters

After disasters of all types, there is a danger of substance abuse surges. Since accidental drug overdose deaths have increased exponentially in many areas of the country in recent years, substance abuse is already a major public health problem that only increases in intensity following disasters. Fortunately, many insurance companies have been changing benefits to include substance abuse treatment and communities where overdose rates are the worst are working to change the stigma surrounding substance addictions.

Recovering from disasters of all types requires a multi-faceted approach. By providing the medical and emotional support needed to help survivors and loved ones that have been affected by terror attacks recover, agencies and responders serve the communities in which they operate. By mitigating the financial hardships caused by these services, insurance companies are helping to accelerate recovery.

There is much to do to help prevent future tragedies and to expedite recovery when disasters do occur. Changing the way that services like health insurance work is just a small step, but it may help to foster big changes. By taking action to help, rather than stigmatize those in need of mental health or substance abuse counseling, we may all play a part in helping the nation to heal and move towards a brighter future.

[1] Source: http://www.gallup.com/poll/190475/americans-concern-crime-climbs-year-high.aspx

Amanda Flowers

Amanda Flowers is currently a freelance health blogger and working for Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC. Flowers is a recent college graduate and avid writer. While her primary focus in college was Psychology, Flowers minored in English Literature and Public Health. She draws on her knowledge of these subjects to create online content that addresses human needs in a simple way.