1. What is mental health?
Although the definition of mental health varies across different disciplines and is influenced by professional theories, diversities in culture and subjective assessments, the various definitions tend to resonate around the same theme or in other words, they convey an almost similar meaning of the concept of mental health. For instance, mental health is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a state of emotional well-being which enables one to not only to function comfortably within society and but also to be satisfied with one’s own achievements. In essence therefore, mental health refers to the successful adaptation to stressors from both internal and external environment which is evidenced by thoughts and behaviors that are, one appropriate for the person’s age and two, congruent with local and cultural norms.
2. What is developmental disability care?
Patients with developmental disabilities normally have either a physical or mental impairment or a combination of the two. Developmental disability care therefore refers to the highly specialized care and support provided to individuals with developmental disabilities with the aim of enhancing their self-esteem as well as ensuring they achieve the highest quality of life possible. This care is often tailored to meet the individual needs of each patient. Patients with special needs that require medical interventions are cared for in skilled nursing facilities whereas the rest are normally cared for in special facilities that provide highly individualized services aimed at meeting their needs. In addition these special facilities offer them training particularly occupational therapy with an aim of enabling them achieve the highest level of independence possible. Governments in all the states offer some form of developmental disability care and support via their respective departments of mental health to residents diagnosed as having developmental disabilities.
3. Give examples of requests that may be received for mental & developmental disability health records
Patients with mental illness and those with developmental disabilities have a right to confidentiality. However, requests for information regarding the condition of the patient are often received from various quarters. For one, family members are often anxious to know how their patient is doing and thus may request for information about their patient’s condition. Insurance companies on the other hand normally request for information regarding the diagnosis and management of the patient which is vital for them to be able to provide the patient with the necessary medical cover. Employers also solicit for patient information like the diagnosis, management and prognosis so as to be able to determine whether the patient is in a position to resume or continue working amongst other purposes like providing the details to insurance companies. Information pertaining to the client’s condition may also be requested by legal systems for example when a person commits a crime, the court may seek information on whether the person is a known mentally ill patient.
4. Do mental health & developmental disability health laws vary by state?
Laws relating to mental health and developmental disabilities differ from state to state. For example, the definitions of mental illness and developmental disabilities vary slightly from one state to another. For instance, the Michigan Mental Health Code contained in the 1974 Public Act 258 defines developmental disability in a person more than five years of age as being a severe, chronic condition whose etiology is probably due to either to a physical or mental impairment or a combination of the two, which presents before one attains 22 years of age and is likely to continue for a long time. In addition, the condition must cause significant functional limitations in three or more areas of major life activities which normally include self-care, learning, self-direction, economic self-efficiency, capacity for independent living, receptive and expressive language and mobility. Further, the condition should determine the individual’s needs for sequential and combined special, multidisciplinary treatments or other kind of services or generic care which may last over the person’s lifetime or be provided for an extended duration of time and which is additionally planned and coordinated according to an individual’s needs. The same act defines developmental disabilities in under 5’s as a significant developmental delay or an acquired condition or a particular congenital condition which has a high probability of resulting in developmental disability as defined in the same act for persons above five years of age if the necessary services are not provided (Covenant Enabling Residences of Michigan, n.d.).
The State Law of Maryland on the other hand defers slightly defining developmental disability as a severe chronic disability which is caused by either a physical or mental impairment as opposed to the primary diagnosis of mental illness or a combination of the two forms of impairments, presents before 22 years of age, is likely to continue for an indefinite period of time, predisposes the affected individual to being unable to live independently in the absence of external support or continued regular assistance and finally, the severe chronic disability reflects the individual’s needs for a combination and sequelea of special multidisciplinary interventions, treatments or generic care or any other services which are normally planned and coordinated according to the particular individual’s needs (Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, n.d.).
Whilst these differences may appear inconsequential, they greatly influence decisions on the individuals who are eligible for state support services since these decisions are guided by the state laws definition of mental illness and developmental disability. The laws pertaining to the kind of medical cover offered in the various states also tends to differ significantly whereby some states have equal coverage laws, others have minimum mandated mental health benefits laws and the rest have mandated offering laws (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2011).
5. Give an example of one state’s law
The California Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) was passed into law by voters in the year 2004. It aimed at facilitating the development of a comprehensive approach that would enable the provision of community-based mental health services as well as any necessary support to all residents living in the state of California. Funds for implementation of the act were to be raised by increasing the tax on individuals with a taxable income of more than 1 million dollars by 1%. The act further identified and addressed six key components that were considered vital for the establishment of a better mental health system in the state. The six components included community program planning, services and supports, capital and information technology, education and training, prevention and early intervention, and finally innovation. The act also gave the California State Department of Mental Health together with the county mental health departments the mandate to not only develop but also manage the implementation of the provisions contained in the Act. Further, it provided for the establishment of a Mental Health services Oversight and Accountability Commission comprising of sixteen members whose main responsibility was to oversee the implementation of the provisions of the act (California Department of Mental Health, 2009).
The requirements for service delivery as well as provision of support to individuals with severe emotional disturbances with or without comorbid mental illness regardless of whether they are children, youths or adults are also stipulated in the act. The Act also contained the provision for the increment of the mental health service fund under the state treasury. These funds would then be distributed to all counties within the state on an annual basis and utilized in funding mental health related activities and services. For a county to be eligible to receive funds under the MHSA, it must develop its own three year plans which must be in line with the requirements outlined by the act. The act further stipulates that the process of planning at the county level must involve all stakeholders and citizens. The counties are also required under the act to provide annual updates as well as a public review process. In regard to funding, the act proposed three phases of local funding which would then be utilized for the implementation of the plans made for the initial stage following adoption of the act into law, the three year plans made by the various counties as well as any long-term plans (California Department of Mental Health, 2009).
California Department of Mental Health (2009). Mental health services act (Preposition 63).
Retrieved from http://www.dmh.ca.gov/prop_63/mhsa/default.asp.
Covenant enabling residences of Michigan (n.d.). Federal definition of developmental disability.
Retrieved from http://www.cermi.org/i/state_fed_DD_def.PDF.
Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council (n.d.). Federal definition of developmental
disability. Retrieved from http://www.md-council.org/resources/dd_definition.html.
National Conference of State Legislatures (2011). State laws regulating or mandating mental
health benefits. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14352.