mental illnessThere seems to be a new attitude about mental health – an awareness that it’s not too different from physical health.  Across our society, there’s more acknowledgement that mental illness does not necessarily make someone unproductive or push them out of the main stream.   That’s a good thing.  Unfortunately, there is more mental illness than ever – not a good thing.
Millions of People Are Dealing with Mental Illness
The large number of people who are working on mental health issues is the first surprise. Houston Rockets rookie Royce White is a case in point.  He can’t fly with the team, so he takes the bus.  His sports profile is drawing attention to the other 6.8 million of us who live with generalized anxiety, although not all have to face fear of flying as he does.
Mental Illness Has Contributed to Our Culture and History
That’s the second surprise.  The Atlantic has featured some of our most influential historical people who were probably making history in spite of (or perhaps due to) forms of mental illness. As you can imagine, depression and panic attacks have plagued some leaders in our worst times.
For example, Abraham Lincoln reportedly suffered with severe depression according to The Atlantic article.  It also notes problems that Beethoven and Isaac Newton dealt with as they made lasting imprints on human civilization.
You Can’t Catch Mental Illness from Someone Else
While this may not surprise you, it does seem that people treat others who have mental illness as if they are contagious.  As absurd as that sounds, people still hesitate to get treatment that could improve their life because they fear the stigma, if not discrimination, society once imposed. That’s a shame because most mental illness is treatable and Medicare has mental health benefits.
Medicare Covers Mental Health Care
Medicare has benefits for both inpatient and outpatient mental health care to diagnose and treat mental illness.  You’ll have to meet the Part B deductible for both types of care.  For doctor appointments to diagnose a problem, you also have 20-percent co-insurance and Medicare will pay 80 percent of the approved amount.
For outpatient treatment, you once had to pay 40 percent of the approved amount, but that’s been decreasing.  It will be down to 20 percent in 2014.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.