Since the 1990s, legislators in Congress have been pursuing the end of discrimination for people with mental illness by health insurance companies and employers. Even after they passed historic legislation (at the time) in 1996 to end this discrimination, health insurance companies found ways to subvert the intent of the bill and still discriminate against the people they covered if they had a mental health issue.

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the $700 billion bailout bill (263 to 171), which included the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This Act (which we reported on earlier), a compromise that’s been years in the making, mandates that all employers with more than 50 employees offer mental health coverage that’s comparable to their physical health benefits. With Senate approval on Wednesday, the bill becomes law upon President Bush’s signature.

This means that for 110 million Americans, their health insurance will now be required to offer benefits and coverage of their mental health concerns at a level equal to that of physical concerns. Insurance companies will no longer be legally allowed to limit outpatient visits for psychotherapy (unless they do so already for other doctor’s visits).

We applaud Congress and the tireless work of Sen. Pete Domenici, the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sen. Mike Enzi, among dozens of others, who never gave up hope of getting this historic piece of legislation passed.

We are relieved that finally, one more discriminatory and stigmatizing practice by the “free market” has been extinguished. It gives us hope that more government bodies and private corporations will follow and recognize that mental illness is just as real and has just as significant impact on the workplace as any physical illness or disability. We hope insurance companies and employers don’t find a new loophole or another way around providing equal coverage and treatment for people with mental illness.




View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 9 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Oct 2008
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2008). Mental Health Equality, Finally. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 25, 2014, from


Recent Comments
  • floridahank: Most readers will reject this immediately for one of many reasons, but my life has changed drastically...
  • Michael: Doesn’t always have to agree. Just make your point clear. Remember, a muscular person ends up arguing...
  • bgandl: After reading this, I had the suspicion that this therapist had some unresolved personal sense of trauma...
  • anon: I’d actually say no one NEEDS to remain single in order to learn to love themselves – I suppose...
  • anon: Maybe it is because my codependence is relatively mild that I don’t quite fit this dance. My self esteem...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 13524
Join Us Now!