Each year millions of Americans with mental illness struggle to find mental health care. Nearly half of the 60 million adults and children living with mental health conditions in the United States go without any treatment. People who seek treatment must navigate a fragmented and costly system full of obstacles. As a result, many people cannot access mental health care when they need it most.
Despite the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008, significant barriers remain which keep many Americans from accessing mental health treatment and support.
Americans are finding it difficult to access care for several reasons. People lack the same access to mental health providers as they have for other medical providers. And when they can find a mental health professional, many are forced to go out-of-network to do so. This leads to higher out-of-pocket costs for mental health care compared to other types of primary or specialty care.
To assess whether federal and state parity laws were truly leading to equity in accessing mental health and substance use disorder care, NAMI has conducted a series of three surveys. Following the first survey in 2014, NAMI issued a report in April 2015, A Long Road Ahead: Achieving True Parity in Mental Health and Substance Use Care. The survey revealed that, despite the requirements of the federal parity law, people encountered significant barriers to receiving services.