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Workers have mental health rights, Labor officials want everyone to know

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — It's Mental Health Month, and across the country groups are advocating for Americans to know about their mental health support options. The Department of Labor has an administration focused on employee benefits -- and they want workers to know they have options.

The Employee Benefits Security Administration's (EBSA) Assistant Secretary Lisa Gomez spoke with ABC-7 about the rights that many workers have for mental health support. She spoke about the federal government's plans on equal access to mental care benefits and resources for workers.

Roughly 16% of Hispanics, according to experts, have mental health challenges -- roughly 10 million people. With National Minority Mental Health Month & Mental Health Month back to back, the agency is hoping more Latinos recognize the supports available to them.

One of those is the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Act, which is focused on rights for workers and their treatment.

The point of the Parity Act keeps health plans from putting in barriers to mental health care -- or substance use -- support. There are nuances, and more can be found on the ESBA website. They have support options for legal rights, information on health plans and what to do if denied a benefit claim.

Some tips from the ESBA include:

  • Parity means that financial requirements, such as copayments, and treatment limits, such as how many visits your insurance will pay for, must be comparable for physical health and MH/SUD services.
  • Although benefits may differ across plans, parity requires that the processes related to plan benefit determinations be comparable.
  • Plans must apply comparable copays for MH/SUD care and physical health care.
  • Prior authorization requirements for MH/SUD services must be comparable to or less restrictiv than those for physical health services.

The EBSA has professionals focused on retirement and health benefit plans -- these benefit advisors can help you navigate your plans of all types. You can call them 1-866-444-3272, or online at this link.

Avery Martinez covers mental health in the Borderland as part of ABC-7’s Be Mindful initiative. He is also a Report for America corps member. RFA places talented, emerging journalists in newsrooms like ABC-7’s to report on under-covered issues and communities. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.

Article Topic Follows: Be Mindful

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