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Mental Illness: Few Families Untouched

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Mental Illness: Few Families Untouched

November 04, 2009

Few families in the United States are untouched by mental illness. Estimates are that about one in four American adults suffers from some type of mental illness, and about 1 in 17 suffers from a serious mental illness. In a 1999 report, the U.S. Surgeon General emphasized the relationship between the mind and body and the importance of mental health to overall health and wellbeing. Since the 1970s, there have been great medical advances in treating mental illness, particularly with the use of mood-stabilizing and anti-psychotic medications. Yet significant social stigma still surrounds the diagnosis of a mental illness, and issues of affordability, health insurance and the availability of mental health professionals impede access to care. Health insurance coverage for mental health treatment has been troublesome for many families, but federal mental health parity regulations issued in January 2010 should help equalize insured Americans' access to mental health care. 

Updated February 2010

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