The mental health crisis in the United States is a consequential problem aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in the United States undergoes mental illness annually. Unfortunately, access to mental health services remains a challenge for many Americans. This policy paper will examine the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, a bill introduced in the Senate in 2021 to enhance access to psychiatric mental health services. The paper will assess the bill’s influence on the PMHNP’s role, healthcare quality, and results for psychiatric mental healthcare.
The Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021 is a federal bill that was presented in the House of Representatives on March 3, 2021. The bill aspires to enhance mental health services accessibility and care by handling workforce deficiencies and boosting the availability of services in underserved areas (Hogan et al., 2021). The bill concentrates on raising the number of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, psychologists, and social workers by supplying donations to academic establishments that offer mental health programs. The bill also grows Medicaid coverage for mental health services and refunds telehealth services at the same rate as in-person services.
Encouragement or Opposition of the Bill
Ethical, legal, and policy considerations may emerge from the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021. From an ethical viewpoint, the bill aligns with the principle of beneficence, which states that healthcare providers should act in the best interest of their patients. By expanding the role of advanced practice nurses in providing mental health services, the bill could help improve access to care for individuals in underserved communities.
From a legal perspective, the bill could face challenges related to the scope of practice for advanced practice nurses. Some states have restrictive laws that limit the ability of advanced practice nurses to provide certain mental health services. The bill would need to address these legal issues to ensure that advanced practice nurses are authorized to provide the full range of mental health services covered by the bill.
From a policy perspective, the bill could face challenges related to funding. The bill proposes to expand Medicare reimbursement for mental health services provided by advanced practice nurses, which could result in increased costs for the program (Hogan & Goldman, 2021). Policymakers would need to consider the potential impact on the overall budget and determine whether the bill’s benefits outweigh the costs.
Impact on the Role of PMHNP
The Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021 would significantly impact the role of the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) (Hogan et al., 2021). The bill would allow PMHNPs to provide a wider range of mental health services and receive reimbursement under Medicare for these services. This would expand the scope of practice for PMHNPs and allow them to play a more significant role in providing mental health care, particularly in underserved communities with limited access to care.
Positive Impact on Collaborative Care
H.R. 1109 aims to improve access to mental health services for students in schools by providing grants to school-based health centers. The bill specifically allocates funding for mental health services, including psychiatric services, counseling, and therapy. This funding will help to improve the collaborative care between schools and mental health providers, as school-based health centers will be able to provide timely and appropriate care to students who need it.
The bill also includes provisions for training school personnel on recognizing and responding to mental health issues (Reinert et al., 2021). This will increase awareness of mental health issues and help to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. The bill will encourage schools and mental health providers to collaborate to develop effective student treatment plans by promoting collaborative care.
Negative Impact on Collaborative Care
One potentially negative impact of the bill is that it may burden school-based health centers that are already understaffed and underfunded. If these centers can hire additional staff to provide mental health services, the quality of care may improve. Additionally, if schools are not adequately prepared to respond to mental health issues, there is a risk that they may miss warning signs or fail to provide appropriate care.
Positive Impact on Access to Care
H.R. 1109 will improve students’ access to mental health services, especially those in underserved communities. The bill specifically allocates funding for schools with a high proportion of low-income students and those in rural areas (Reinert et al., 2021). This will help ensure that students most in need of mental health services have access to them.
The bill also includes provisions for telehealth services, increasing access to mental health services for students living in areas where mental health providers are scarce. Telehealth services will allow students to access mental health services remotely without traveling long distances.
Negative Impact on Access to Care
One potentially negative impact of the bill is that it may need to provide more funding to meet the demand for mental health services in schools. If schools cannot hire enough mental health providers or provide adequate training to school personnel, students may not receive the care they need. Additionally, if telehealth services are not implemented effectively, there is a risk that students may not receive appropriate care or that the quality of care provided may suffer.
In conclusion, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021 can improve access to mental health services and care in the United States. The bill focuses on increasing the number of mental health providers, expanding Medicaid coverage for mental health services, and reimbursing telehealth services at the same rate as in-person services. The bill would significantly impact the role of the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) and allow them to provide a wider range of mental health services.
However, the bill also faces ethical, legal, and policy challenges, such as funding and the scope of practice for advanced practice nurses. Additionally, the bill may have positive and negative impacts on collaborative care and access to care for school students. It is crucial that policymakers carefully consider these potential impacts and make adjustments to the bill as needed to ensure that it effectively addresses the mental health crisis in the United States. Overall, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021 represents a step towards improving access to mental health services and care, which is critical to individuals’ and communities’ overall health and well-being.
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Hogan, M. F., & Goldman, M. L. (2021). New opportunities to improve mental health crisis systems. Psychiatric Services, 72(2), 169–173.
Reinert, M., Fritze, D., & Nguyen, T. (2021). The state of mental health in America 2022.