Laurie Marie Pisciotta with the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island joined GoLocalProv News Editor Kate Nagle on LIVE, to talk about their report issued this week that shows that mental health stigma – and discrimination – are still prevalent in Rhode Island.
“About one in five adults in Rhode Island lives with a mental health condition. Despite that prevalence, we know that people are still struggling to get access to the treatment that they need,” said Pisciotta, the Executive Director at MHARI.
The report – Mental Health Parity in Rhode Island: Experiences of Patients and Professionals – was presented to members of the Governor’s Council on Behavioral Healthcare that highlights findings and recommendations from research conducted as a part of their RI Parity Initiative (RIPI), and identifies several recurrent experiences patients and mental health professionals reported that demonstrate systemic discrimination by health insurers in paying for mental health services as well as persistent social stigma experienced by those with a mental health disorder.
“We see several troubling patterns,” said Pisciotta. “One thing consumers and providers have both expressed is a feeling of disempowerment in the system. And that is largely because health insurers exert a high degree of control over who gets treatment, when, what the treatment protocol is, and how long they can stay in treatment.”
“We hear time and time again from providers that patients’ treatment plans were largely based on what the insurers would cover, as opposed to what’s actually in the best interest of the patient and that’s really unsettling to us,” said Pisciotta.
“We intend to work with health insurers in the coming month, starting in the fall. We will approach health insurers and ask them to work with us to tackle some of the biggest priorities that we see are most troubling,” said Pisciotta.
“With good regulation and oversight, we can make a real difference in the experience of patients and their access to care,” Pisciotta added.