WASHINGTON — Even though more than 1 in 4 Americans (27 percent) have received treatment or therapy from a mental health professional, few people know that health insurers are required to provide coverage for mental health, behavioral health and substance-use disorders that is comparable to coverage for physical health, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was passed in 2008, but only 4 percent of Americans say they are aware of the law, according to the survey, which was commissioned by APA and conducted online between March 7 and 24, 2014, among more than 1,000 adult Americans by Harris Poll. Despite increased national attention on mental health and access to services, in particular with the ongoing National Dialogue on Mental Health led by the White House, awareness of the law has not increased since APA last surveyed on this issue in 2010.
“More access to mental health care is the rallying cry, but the simple fact is many people may already have coverage and not know it or not understand how to use it,” said Katherine C. Nordal PhD, APA’s executive director for professional practice. “The mental health parity law, together with the Affordable Care Act, has expanded mental health treatment opportunities to many Americans in need who may otherwise have gone untreated. But laws don’t have the intended effect when people don’t know that they exist.”
Full press release, survey report, a new consumer guide and video are available at on.apa.org/parity-law.