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The current status of mental health care is a silent danger to the success of health care reform

More than 150,000 District of Columbia residents visit emergency rooms each year. Thousands of these patients are reported to suffer from an undiagnosed mental health illness. These individuals are in need of care and understandably seek out intervention in an emergency room; however, they can unnecessarily complicate the flow of care and make added demands on doctors and scarce inpatient beds.

A 2012 study found that nationally, psychiatric patients remain in the emergency department 3.2 times longer than non-psychiatric patients, preventing an average of 2.2 additional patients from accessing care during their stay and costing the emergency department an extra $2,264 per patient.

Mohammad Akhter, M.D., MPH, the former chairman of the D.C. Health Benefits Exchange Authority and the former director of the D.C. Department of Health says, “Everyday emergency rooms in the District are triaging people with mental health problems that could be better addressed in private visits with psychologists or in community mental health facilities.

But the education around the benefits of the Affordable Care Act has not emphasized the great need to address mental health issues alongside physical health. Doing this and expanding community-based mental health services will provide the maximum benefit of the Affordable Care Act implementation to those who suffer from mental health issues.”

To place much-needed focus on the necessity of including mental health care as a core part of any discussion on the future of healthcare  in the U.S., The Chicago School of Professional Psychology will be hosting a  “No Health Without Mental Health” symposium on Wednesday, March 18th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST. at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health.

The Chicago School is a nonprofit university, and one of the leading institutions devoted to psychology, and related behavioral and health sciences. Dr. Akhter will be one of the key presenters at the symposium.

“We can no longer think of our mental and physical health separately,” said Michele Nealon-Woods, Psy.D., president of The Chicago School.  “One in five Americans receives prescriptions for psychiatric medications, and 6 percent of our children are being treated with medication for mental health issues. Advancements in the field of neuroscience further clarify the profound interplay between physical and mental health, developments that must be better understood by policy makers and the general public if we are to have a highly functioning health care system that works for everyone.”

There are concrete ways to address the growing demand mental illness is having on Washington and other communities around the country that are available now to the public. Dr. Akhter is available for interviews on this growing D.C. and national health crisis.

 About The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Founded in 1979, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) is a nonprofit, private university devoted exclusively to psychology, and related behavioral and health sciences. The university serves nearly 4,500 students across campuses in Chicago; Southern California (Los Angeles and Irvine); and Washington, D.C., as well as through online programs. The Chicago School is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, (WSCUC), and its Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program in Chicago is accredited by the American Psychological Association. A member of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology, TCSPP is recognized for its distinguished service and outstanding contributions to cultural diversity and advocacy. The community service initiatives on the Chicago Campus have also earned recognition on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for six consecutive years. The Los Angeles Campus gained its second recognition in 2014, and its Washington, D.C. Campus received its first award in 2014. With more than 20 graduate degree programs, thousands of hours of real-world training, and a wealth of international opportunities, TCSPP is the leader in professional psychology education. To learn more, visit

For more information and to schedule an interview, contact Joia Nuri, 240-603-7905 or
[email protected]