2008: A Landmark Year For Mental Health Policy
As the federal and state legislative sessions wind down, there was yet another major step forward in the treatment of mental health. On Friday, President Bush signed legislation that included a provision to establish parity between the treatment of mental health disorders and the treatment of physical heath needs. Attached to the bailout package, this provision will help to eliminate some of the artificial distinctions between illnesses of the brain and those of the body. Additionally, by being more open about the treatment of mental illness, we will be able to begin reducing the stigma attached to these disorders.
Passage of federal parity legislation comes on the heels of two important Massachusetts laws: Chapter 321 (An Act Relative To Children’s Mental Health) and Chapter 256 (An Act Relative To Mental Health Parity). Getting one of these laws enacted in a session would have been a success. Two would have been remarkable. Three is an almost unheard of victory.