League of Women Voters to host mental health forum February 8

"Our Community Challenge: Mental Health Parity" panelists to include mental health professionals and State Senator Dan Wolf

The League of Women Voters of Cape Cod will host a forum entitled "Our Community Challenge: Mental Health Parity" on Saturday, February 8 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Harwich Community Center, 100 Oak Street in Harwich.

The Affordable Care Act requires that benefits for mental health services be equal to physical health services.  Saturday's forum will tackle the question, "how is the Cape Cod community doing?"

In the United States, an estimated one in four people over the age of 18, or 26.2 percent, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Of that, 6% suffer from a serious mental illness. Mood disorders and major depressive orders also have a significant effect on Americans.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), most health insurance plans must comply with the federal parity law as pertains to mental health services. To that end, mental health services must not be treated differently than other kinds of health care.  NAMI offers parity guidelines, including a link to a Parity Toolkit made available through the Mental Health Parity Watch.

On the panel, State Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich) will be joined by members of the health and human services fields: Ron Holmes, Executive Director of NAMI Cape Cod & Islands; Diane Wolsieffer, Psychiatric Nurse Practioner at Cape Cod Hospital; Beth Albert, Director of the Barnstable County Department of Human Services and Howard Baker-Smith, Director of the SE Region of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.

To learn more about the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Cape Cod, visit their website here.

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