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California Law Aims to Strengthen Access to Mental Health Services

The number of people with symptoms of depression and anxiety has nearly quadrupled during the covid pandemic, which has made it even more maddeningly difficult to get timely mental health care, even if you have good insurance. A California law signed Oct. 8 by Gov. Gavin Newsom could help. It requires that mental health and substance abuse patients be offered return appointments no more than 10 days after a previous session, unless their provider OKs less frequent visits. Current insurance regulations already require giving patients an initial mental health visit no more than 10 ...

Raising the Bar for Behavioral Health Care

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the American public developed a deeper appreciation for behavioral health care, the umbrella term for mental health and substance use treatment. While demand for it is soaring, the US health care system is still falling far short. Despite significant spending, people with behavioral health conditions still suffer greatly. They experience more illness, poorer health outcomes, and a shorter life expectancy than the general population — often from preventable physical health conditions. State and federal governments are providing additional funds to improve behavioral health care, but ...

In Their Own Words: How Fragmented Care Harms People with Both Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder

For the 8.9 million American adults — about 500,000 Californians — with a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance use disorder, it can be difficult to receive fully coordinated and effective care. For people with low incomes, the barriers can be even higher and lead to unnecessary suffering and poor health outcomes. To better understand how Californians with dual diagnoses experience treatment, CHCF commissioned interviews with 54 people insured through Medi-Cal who have both mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD), as well as additional interviews with the family ...

Mental Health–Related Emergency Department Visits Among Children Aged <18 Years During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, January 1–October 17, 2020

Rebecca T. Leeb, PhD1; Rebecca H. Bitsko, PhD1; Lakshmi Radhakrishnan, MPH2; Pedro Martinez, MPH3; Rashid Njai, PhD4; Kristin M. Holland, PhD5  Published reports suggest that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a negative effect on children’s mental health (1,2). Emergency departments (EDs) are often the first point of care for children experiencing mental health emergencies, particularly when other services are inaccessible or unavailable (3). During March 29–April 25, 2020, when widespread shelter-in-place orders were in effect, ED visits for persons of all ages declined 42% compared with the ...

The Pandemic of Loneliness

In this extraordinary era of pandemic isolation, social distancing, and masking, it makes perfect sense that loneliness and its impact on mental and physical health would garner literary attention. Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, the US surgeon general, released a book early in the pandemic saying America is experiencing a loneliness epidemic. Murthy reported that chronic loneliness works this way: Persistent stress increases inflammation that damages tissues and blood vessels, increasing risk of cardiovascular illness and death. It can interfere with the function of the immune system and make high blood ...