3 minute read
The recent episode on Last Week Tonight puts the failing U.S. Mental Healthcare system in the spotlight. It is a great and timely episode. You should stop reading my pedantic post and watch it now.
OK, now that you’re back, let’s recap the episode and discuss what it could mean for the integrated care movement.
John quickly identifies several major problems: overwhelming demand for mental healthcare, shortages and lack of diversity in the mental health workforce, and weak enforcement of mental health parity laws. He claims that the failures of our mental healthcare system contribute to homelessness and correctional recidivism. John does all of this with personal case examples and zingy one-liners.
For the uninitiated, John Oliver hosts his weekly show on HBO, often taking a satirical look at politics and current events. The show is more than just entertainment. It has rippling effects on legislation, regulation, court rulings, and culture (see the “John Oliver Effect”).
The episode comes at a time when 988 has just launched, several bipartisan mental health bills are advancing in Congress, and diseases of despair mount post-pandemic. We are in a mental health crisis and not enough is being done to address it.
Here is what I like about the episode. It covers a massive topic in just over 25 minutes using stories, humor, history, and research. It is pure “edu-tainment” and connects with people who are not as familiar with the mental healthcare crisis as are members of the CFHA community.
I already know all the points made in this episode. But my friends and family members do not. Influencers and government officials do not completely understand the importance of getting mental healthcare right in this country. This episode is for them.
John ends the episode with solutions (nationalized health system, parity law enforcement, workforce development). Although he does not mention integrated care, it is certainly on the table of solutions. We know that treatment access and equity increase when medical centers integrate behavioral health providers into their teams.
Share this episode with your social networks. Send it to your representatives and ask them to support the current mental healthcare bills. And then tell them how integrated care can help address the glaring disparities in our healthcare system.
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