Established in 1983, Universal Care, Inc. is owned and operated by an experienced group of managed care executives and physicians.
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Recent studies show that Americans with serious mental illness die 15 to 30 years sooner than the rest of the population. An Oxford University study further identifies the premature death rate by disorder: bipolar 9 to 20 years, schizophrenia 10 to 20 years and depression 7 to 11 years. Surprisingly, it’s not for reasons many would assume like suicide, overdoses or accidents, but for the same reasons that impact the rest of society, e.g., cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and respiratory problems. So why are those struggling with mental illness more likely to die at an earlier age than others?
There are two major reasons says Robert Myers, PhD., a psychologist at Brand New Day, a Medicare approved health plan that offers a personalized program for those with mental illness.
“The first is that healthcare professionals often hold pessimistic views about whether patients with serious mental illness can get better so they simply don’t pursue protocols that they would otherwise employ like running certain tests and prescribing various treatments,” he said. “The second reason is that their physical symptoms are often attributed to their mental illness. For example, someone with severe depression might also be suffering from a brain tumor but the symptoms (i.e., severe headaches, nausea, etc) are often confused with those associated with their mental condition.”
Meyers says there are a number of other social determinants that contribute to early mortality among the mentally ill including higher rates of homelessness, poverty and social isolation. They also are more likely to be inactive and involved in tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse.
“Compounding the problem is that 50% of them receive no regular medical care or they wait until it’s too late to seek treatment,” he added.
Brand New Day’s Harmony Program is designed expressly for those with mental illness. Staff is specially trained to look past their mental condition and uncover symptoms commonly ignored or misdiagnosed.
“Both healthcare professionals and loved ones of patients with serious mental illness are often so overwhelmed dealing with episodes of psychosis, bouts of suicidal behavior or radical mood swings that controlling cholesterol or managing blood pressure isn’t even on their radar,” said Myers. “Making sure we are meeting all of their needs is our top priority.”
Brand New Day’s Harmony Program helps both patients and their caregivers. In addition to physical and mental care, patients are afforded a health coach, housing placement and a host of other services.
Brand New Day is the Medicare product name of Universal Care, Inc., a privately held California Knox-Keene Healthcare Service Plan licensed by the California Department of Managed Health Care and contracted with the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services as a Medicare Advantage contractor.
Established in 1983, Universal Care, Inc. is owned and operated by an experienced group of managed care executives and physicians. For more information call (866) 255-4795.