The president’s latest executive order could make access to mental health care easier and cheaper for millions of U.S. residents.
President Barack Obama issued the order Friday. He has given 23 executive orders in 201 in response to the 12 mass shootings that have taken place in a little more than a year. The latest one targets mental health by requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health care, a benefit that was often denied in previous years.
"For years mental health has been a hidden or invisible disease, and we haven't necessarily treated it like other medical illnesses,” said Kelly Barton, vice president of operations at Gundersen Health Systems.
Judy Shoults is one of nearly 21 million people nationwide who live with, and sometimes suffer from, a mood disorder. She said she’s not shy about her depression diagnosis.
"When I entered the hospital I turned to my husband, who is much more private than I am, and said we're not going to hide this,” she said.
Shoults said she’s impressed with the president’s latest order.
"I think it'll make a huge difference compared to when I was going through my issues."
Lawmakers at the state level are also turning to the issue of mental health. The state Assembly was scheduled to take up a series of bills drafted by the Task Force for Mental Health this week. Those bills focused on issues including child psychiatry programs and changes to involuntary detention practices.
Shoults said the latest push to address mental health will hopefully inspire others to raise their voice and make a change. She’s already made one.
"I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I refuse to be ashamed of my depression,” she said.