The Aging Mentally Ill: Ensuring Adequate Mental Health Care

By James Thomas Royster Jones and Elizabeth Richardson.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Mental illness affects one in four Americans; the incurable severe diseases schizophrenia and bipolar disorder alone strike over five million people. Today an increasing number of the booming population over fifty have struggled for years with psychiatric disorders. Many have no adequate insurance or other means to pay for their long-term treatment until Medicare takes effect at age sixty-five. Historically health insurers have discriminated against those with insurance who have psychiatric disorders through limiting coverage in a variety of ways. Millions effectively have no insurance at all due to lack of money or denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. They, accordingly, at best depend on the increasingly underfunded Medicaid. This article asserts that society must ensure that adequate mental healthcare is offered to all between ages fifty and sixty-five with longstanding mental illness who cannot pay for their own treatment. It differs from existing perspectives on public benefits by focusing on the aging who have had psychiatric diseases for much of their lives. It offers proposed solutions using existing and potential legislation that will aid the increasing population of the often stigmatized, and overlooked, aging with chronic mental illness.

Keywords: Public Policy, Health, Mental Illness

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.31-41. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 294.067KB).

Prof. James Thomas Royster Jones

Professor of Law, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

James T. R. Jones is a professor of law at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. He earned a B.A. with highest distinction in history at the University of Virginia and a J.D. with distinction at Duke University School of Law. In recent years, he has focused his writings on mental illness in the legal community. In 2008, he disclosed that for over thirty years he kept secret, mostly from fear of stigma and discrimination, his lifelong battle with severe mental illness. Since then he has written and spoken extensively about successful professionals who live with serious mental illness, and has won several awards in recognition of his mental health advocacy efforts.

Elizabeth Richardson

Student, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Elizabeth A. Richardson is a third year student at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. She earned a B.A. with honors in psychology at the University of Kentucky. She currently serves as an editor for the Journal of Law and Education and Vice President of the Education Law and Policy Society. Her interests include health care law and policy and elder law.