Labor Day: Calling on Congress to End Workplace Health-Benefits Inequity
Contact: Jason Halal, (703) 797-1943 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (August 29, 2007) - This Labor Day, Mental Health America urges Congress to end a critical workplace inequity by passing legislation to establish parity between the coverage for general and mental health benefits for American workers and their families. More than 113 million American workers and their families rely on employee-sponsored health insurance, but even those with "good health insurance" face unique roadblocks to needed mental health care in the form of arbitrary treatment limits and higher out-of-pocket costs.
Bills pending in both the Senate and House would protect American workers and their families by establishing a basic fairness standard that would call for covering mental illness on par with other illnesses. By passing a long-overdue "mental health parity" bill, Congress will improve Americans' health and employers' bottom line.
"Congressional action to redress this inequity in insurance coverage is years overdue," said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. "Countless Americans with 'good insurance' have shockingly limited mental health benefits with devastating and sometimes tragic implications for workers and their family families as well as huge costs in lost productivity for businesses and our economy. Labor Day is the time to celebrate American workers and to recognize that ensuring equity in health coverage not only improves their health, but that of the workplace and our economy."
The cost of not providing parity is huge. Untreated mental disorders cost businesses and our economy tens of billions of dollars annually and result in devastating loss of life, health and human potential.
- Over 32,000 Americans die from suicide each year; 90 percent are attributable to an untreated or under-treated mental or substance use disorder, particularly depression. These disorders also increase a person's risk of homelessness, incarceration and the need for emergency treatment.
- Untreated mental disorders cost American businesses and our economy more than $100 billion as a result of lost productivity, absenteeism and other indirect workplace costs and $8 billion in crime and welfare.
- Mental disorders strike across the age span, and - left untreated - have a particularly devastating impact on children who may face resultant school failure, poor employment prospects, and poverty in adulthood.
Mental health parity has broad bipartisan support and - for the first time - the support of the business community. Mental Health America and its nationwide network of over 320 affiliates call on the Senate and House to pass their respective parity bills when they return to Washington after Labor Day. For more information, visit: http://www.equitycampaign.net.
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. For more information, visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/.