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Republican and Democratic Voters Overwhelmingly Support Fair Mental Health Insurance Coverage

Mental Health America Joins Reps. Kennedy & Ramstad in Equity Forums Across Nation

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The vast majority of Americans (89%), including Democrats, Republicans, managers and employees, want to end insurance discrimination against people with mental health needs in this country, according to a new survey by Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association). Mental Health America releases these findings a day before Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) kick off a series of nationwide forums -- sponsored by Mental Health America and The National Alliance on Mental Illness -- to move our country closer to federal mental health insurance equity legislation after decades of advocacy. The first forum will take place in Providence, R.I. on January 16, 2007.

"For too long, insurance companies have offered limited or negligible mental health and substance abuse coverage," said David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America. "The myth propelling mental health inequity in insurance coverage -- that improving coverage would bear too much cost to businesses -- instead robs U.S. businesses and governments of millions of dollars each year and costs our society productive citizens and healthy families. This survey demonstrates that Americans agree -- regardless of political affiliations -- that equitable mental health care is long overdue.

The survey findings represent the third in a series of results from the "Mental Heath America Attitudinal Survey." For previous findings, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

Americans Think Health Coverage Should Include Mental Health and Substance Abuse

  • Nearly all Americans (96%) think health insurance should include coverage of mental health care. Only two percent said health insurance should not cover it.
  • 89% assert that insurance plans should cover mental health treatments at the same level as treatments for general health problems. Only eight percent feel they should not cover them equally.
  • A large majority (74%) believe that insurance plans should cover substance abuse treatments at the same levels as treatments for general health issues. 23% feel that they should not be covered equitably.
  • The public demand for mental health equity is bipartisan -- 83% of Republicans and 92% of Democrats want equitable health insurance.
  • Employees and employers alike (89% respectively) want health insurance coverage for mental health treatments to be equitable to general health treatments.

"It is clear from this survey that Americans continue to want equitable insurance coverage. And we know there is a real need -- over two thirds of adults and over half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder do not receive the mental health treatment and services they need," said Shern. "We expect the new Congress to follow their constituents' lead and pass comprehensive legislation that ends insurance discrimination against people with mental health and addiction needs. We applaud the leadership and passion of Reps. Kennedy and Ramstad in moving Congress in the right direction."

About the Survey

The "Mental Health America Attitudinal Survey" was conducted by International Communications Research, an independent research company. Interviews were conducted via telephone and the Internet from October 10 to November 1, 2006 among a nationally representative sample of 3,040 respondents age 18 and older. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 1.75%.

"Part 3: Insurance Coverage for Mental Health and Substance Abuse in America" is the third in a series of releases from the "Mental Health America Attitudinal Survey." During 2007, Mental Health America will release additional survey findings addressing the stigma surrounding mental illness, veterans, perceptions of America's health care systems, doctor-patient relationships and more.

Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation -- everyday and in times of crisis.

Source: Mental Health America

Copyright (2007) PRNewswire. All rights reserved.

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