The short answer is no. Many people write or talk about the need for more and better forms of professional care in mental health. We do not lack adequate to excellent practitioners to provide care but mental health care is looked at differently than other forms of health care. The fact that we call it mental health separates it from just health, and we do not provide on par care through third party insurance coverage.

Why isn’t it just called health care? There are diagnostic categories for every know ailment or disease that health care professionals treat. There are obvious differences in how professionals arrive at treatment planning and provision. The MD physician is a part of a formal association that is licensed at the state and federal level while psychologists and social workers are licensed by the states with no current federal licensing. The MD training and preparation is fairly standardized and rigorously monitored through the formal medical community with ongoing research on most if not all specialties.

The development of psychology has evolved and progressed but does not have the standing of medicine and its acceptance. During my professional life the attempts to include mental health team members in medicine has been done with mixed results. Rather than focus on this aspect of care it is important to share some observations from where the perception of differences comes from.

When a family member is in the hospital we visit, send flowers and cards and support the care and return to good health. If our family member is in a psychological unit or in a treatment facility for addiction many people feel differently about visits, cards, and telling our friends about how the person is doing. The differences are not part of plot but more from a lack of understanding on where such disorders come from, are they self induced, or is our family member ever going to be cured.

The causes of mental health problems are not always treated by a blood test, X-rays or with our family physician and care is often sought by the individual without the consultation with a doctor. Insurance does cover some professional care but often on a limited basis and only with specific approval.

This discussion is not about fairness but about the fact that mental health is treated in a different manner than all other forms of health. It would make sense to have one system that includes the MD and the licensed mental health professional. I do not have the answer to how this can become one system but that does not make such an idea beyond what should happen.

The body is interconnected, with all its parts relating to the whole. Holistic health has been a catch phrase and often in university curriculum. The reality of such a teatment system would allow for just plain health care which had one standard. The standard would be to provide what the patiend NEEDED, as soon as possible in a cost effective manner, where the patient had the highest qualtiy of care which allowed them to live a great life.

No matter the diagnosis, each person deserves to be treated professionally with dignity and respect, receiving supportive visitors, flowers, and cards when in a hospital, returning to work and their homes as soon as possible.