By Mark Ralston, Reuters Health The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to create mental health and substance abuse counseling for communities that have experienced the worst pandemic in U.S. history.
But a group of mental health professionals who represent more than 2,300 mental health care providers is raising concerns that the agency’s approach to mental health could create a backlash.
In an April letter to the director of the CDC, the Association of Mental Health Professionals of America (AMHPA) said the agency is “trying to move the needle” with mental health services.
“While some of the best mental health resources and services in the world have been available to people who have been diagnosed with mental illness, they are often inaccessible to many communities and underfunded,” the letter said.
“It is critical that we provide resources to those communities, including in underserved areas of the country where mental health providers are underfunded and marginalized, so that they can access these services.”
In April, the agency opened its first mental health treatment center in Flint, Michigan, and has been working with other states to expand its efforts.
The association is urging the agency to provide more services for people with mental illnesses and address mental health disparities in communities of color.
“We strongly recommend that you work with local partners and community members to develop a plan to build a mental health service that meets the needs of communities and that serves all people,” the group wrote in a letter sent to the CDC.
The group is the latest to criticize the mental healthcare system in the U.K., where the number of people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder increased in the past decade.
In 2014, the number increased by 15% in England and Wales, the largest increases in the EU.
“Mental health services should be a priority for the U, UK and beyond,” the AMHPA said in its letter.
“People who are suffering from mental health issues are more likely to seek help when they are in a vulnerable position, such as someone who has suffered trauma, or have a history of substance abuse.”
The AMHPA, a trade group for mental health professional organizations, is also urging the Trump administration to “reduce barriers to mental healthcare and treatment, particularly for those who are already struggling with mental and substance use disorders.”
The U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in conflict and armed conflict said in a March report that there were “high rates of non-treatment-seeking behavior in both warring states” and the situation has worsened since 2014.
The U-N panel said more than two-thirds of the countries in the conflict were not offering mental health support.
The AP contributed to this report.