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APHA backs mental health parity for kids.

New legislation introduced on Capitol Hill could help numbers of children receive the mental health help they need, according to APHA.

In a May letter sent to leading members of the Senate, APHA was among many health organizations commending the senators for introducing the Children's Mental Health Parity Act, also known as S. 1337. Introduced in the Senate in early May by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the legislation would require equitable coverage for mental health services within the State Children's Health Insurance Program. According to the letter, initiated by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, mental disorders affect about one in five children in the United States, and 5 percent to 9 percent experience serious mental disturbances that severely impair their daily lives. Unfortunately, many state SCHIP programs impose limits on mental health services even though low-income children enrolled in SCHIP and Medicaid experience the highest rates of mental illness.

"Sadly, over two-thirds of children struggling with mental health disorders do not receive mental health care," the letter said. "The President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health found that without early and effective identification and interventions, childhood mental disorders can lead to a downward spiral of school failure, poor employment opportunities and poverty in adulthood."

The mental health legislation would prohibit "discriminatory" limits on SCHIP mental health services by directing that mental health service limits be no more restrictive than other medical services.
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Title Annotation:APHA Advocates: Recent actions on public health by APHA; American Public Health Association
Author:Krisberg, Kim
Publication:The Nation's Health
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2007
Words:234
Previous Article:APHA takes action on SCHIP initiatives.
Next Article:APHA supports vision for healthy nation.
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