Op-Ed: Obamacare, a child's fair chance at life

For the first time, many families with children who have mental illness can sleep better at night knowing their child may have the opportunity to receive proper mental health treatment with the new Affordable Care Act, known by many as Obamacare. It seems that most of the families should have already been able to sleep better at night, inasmuch as Proposition 63 created funding for the mental health system in 2004.

However, that has not been the case for many uninsured low-income families. It is a struggle for many families who are not aware of the programs being offered. I believe it is fair to say that with Obamacare we will be able to save many children from a long journey of mental disturbance.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to cover all mental health patient treatments as they would have for any other health issue. More importantly, families are required under the act to be given information from their insurance companies that explains the variety of treatments being offered.

Mental illness is a hard topic to talk about, and many families who are not able to get the treatments needed for their children are left without any support. As mentioned before, with the passage of Proposition 63, the government created funding that offers free family support and peer groups for those who need the guidance and care. Yet, not many families are aware of the programs because they do not have anyone to guide them toward the agencies.

The Affordable Care Act has created different levels of healthcare options that will fit within each family’s budget. Families will not only be able to get access to the treatments through the insurance companies, but they will also be notified of the free programs through social workers and other agencies. The public can also access a “nonprofit social services agency list” through the Glendale city website. There are numerous agencies found on the list that offer mental health services. The list can be found on the site under “programs and services.”

One might wonder why the issue of mental health treatments not being covered by insurance companies never came up before. Well, with the recent shootings at schools, airports and movie theaters, it was revealed that many of the offenders had mental health issues. If those issues were treated from a young age, and the child received full treatment, he or she might have grown up without feeling a need to bring violence upon others. While not every child who receives mental health treatment is prone to violence, it is more likely many children would be better off with treatment.

One cannot control the actions of another human being, but one can teach and help lessen the destructive behavior. Children are the future, and no matter the type of health issue a child has, nor from what socioeconomic status he or she holds, each child deserves fair chance at life.

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KATHERINE SARGSYAN is a resident of Glendale studying social work at the University of Southern California. She can be reached at ksargsya@usc.edu.

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