POST # 1 SOFIA
· Briefly describe the availability of and access to mental health care in your community and geographical area.
· What do you see as the greatest barrier to access and how do you feel this would be best addressed? Be specific in regard to addressing this issue in your “community” or geographical area. Do you believe that private or public entities are best suited to address this?
Having the availability and access to mental health care and resources is vital to improve outcomes. Currently in Massachusetts, only about half of adults who have mental health illnesses are receiving treatment whether in public or private sectors (SAMHSA, 2021). There are combination factors included preventing treatment whether it is lack of availability or various barriers to access. In Massachusetts, current availability comes in many forms including presenting to the emergency department during crisis, inpatient hospitalizations, outpatient services including crisis stabilization units, substance abuse programs and private offices. In my immediate community, there is a high presence of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) which provides services to those most in need by providing a case worker and assisting with functions in the community including acquiring a job and housing (Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, 2021). There is also assistance in acquiring MassHealth which is Medicaid in Massachusetts to improve access to care (Massachusetts Department of Mental Health,2021).
There are many barriers to access to mental health resources including structural concerns about overloading the system with too much demand for mental health services and too few providers (Carbonell et al., 2020). In Massachusetts, however, the greatest barrier could be the stigmatization from self and others associated with mental health illness. This includes negative behavior about one’s own mental health illness, feeling dismissed and not receiving care, lack of awareness of the process in the mental health system from a lack of education and interpersonal views such as looking down at those suffering from mental health illness (Knaak et al., 2017). This rings true in my community due to the high homeless population and the ongoing crisis in substance abuse. To address barriers to access, increased education and assistance from the public sector specifically, as the middle- and low-income communities, along with the homeless population, are at the greatest risk to barriers related to mental health treatment and cannot typically afford private insurance for private care (Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, 2021). Increased funding is needed to open more DMH shelters and have more mental health workers to assist the community. This population is often overlooked increasing the risk of their morbidity and mortality making it vital to decrease barriers to access and increase knowledge on how to acquire assistance and processes.
Carbonell, Á., Navarro‐Pérez, J. J., & Mestre, M. V. (2020). Challenges and barriers in mental healthcare systems and their impact on the family: A systematic integrative review. Health & Social Care in the Community, 28(5), 1366–1379. https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12968
Knaak, S., Mantler, E., & Szeto, A. (2017). Mental illness-related stigma in healthcare. Healthcare Management Forum, 30(2), 111–116. https://doi.org/10.1177/0840470416679413
Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. (2021). Finding Mental Health Support in Massachusetts. Mass.gov. https://www.mass.gov/guides/finding-mental-health-support-in-massachusetts.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2021). Map – SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/locator.