Acupuncture in Community Mental Health Clinics
Making acupuncture services more available in community health clinics could benefit the healthcare system. Mental illness disabilities are the most rapidly growing type of social security disability insurance (SSDI) claim (Drake, 2009). The costly SSDI system is putting the medical system at risk of bankruptcy. Major depression is a severe issue in the United States healthcare system, unchanged from 1990 to 2016 as the 2nd leading cause of years lived with a disability (The State of U.S. Health, 2018). Prescribing antidepressants may not cure depression, and many people are looking for other alternatives.
Acupuncture enhances the quality of life measures while decreasing cortisol levels (Maes, 2007). High-stress hormones such as cortisol levels are correlated with major depressive disorder. Acupuncture is an effective, safe, and affordable treatment for various mental health conditions (Smith, 2018). Acupuncture is more effective than antidepressants, with fewer side effects (Li, 2020). Unfortunately, acupuncture is not available in many community mental health clinics, making it inaccessible to impoverished people.
Poverty limits healthcare options. Women in poverty are two times more likely to experience depression than non-impoverished women (Belle, 2003). Stress levels are extraordinarily high for women of low socioeconomic status. Acupuncture services in community mental health clinics could alleviate depressive symptoms by reducing cortisol levels while activating the parasympathetic nervous system, downregulating norepinephrine, and decreasing inflammation.
Imagine if local and state government officials become more aware of the efficacy of acupuncture for treating depressed and impoverished women. Policymakers could be more apt to modify Medicaid policy, making community mental health a more prominent resource for those in need. If community mental health clinic patients got better quicker with acupuncture, it could enhance people's lives in the local community and improve the Medicaid system.
Belle, D., & Doucet, J. (2003). Poverty, inequality, and discrimination as sources of depression among U.S. women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27(2), 101– 113
Drake, R. E., Skinner, J. S., Bond, G. R., & Goldman, H. H. (2009). Social Security and Mental Illness: Reducing Disability with Supported Employment. Health Affairs, 28(3), 761–770
Maes, M., Lin, A., Bonaccorso, S., van Hunsel, F., Van Gastel, A., Delmeire, L., . . . Scharpe´, S. (2007). Increased 24-hour urinary cortisol excretion in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and patients with major depression, but not in patients with fibromyalgia. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 98, 328–335.
Smith, C. A., Armour, M., Lee, M. S., Wang, L., Hay, P. J., & Smith, C. A. (2018). Acupuncture for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3.
The State of U.S. Health, 1990-2016: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Among U.S. States. (2018). JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, 319(14), 1444.