Mental health policies
in America have changed radically over the past 60 years. A one-time
emphasis on caring for patients in large institutions has shifted to
treating them in outpatient settings in the community. The ways mental
disorders are diagnosed and categorized have changed. And the use of
psychotropic medications is more prevalent than it used to be.
The new federal mental health parity law, passed as part of the recent $700 billion financial bailout
package, is a real piece of help for families around the country. Even
better, the law will not preempt stronger state parity legislation. The
law will help states achieve their parity goals because it applies to
self-insured health plans which are not subject to state regulation.