Lamar Odom’s cry for help illustrates value of mental health care, coverage

There is a greater emphasis on recognizing and receiving treatment for issues such as grief, anxiety, and depression, all of which fall under the umbrella of mental health.

There is a greater emphasis on recognizing and receiving treatment for issues such as grief, anxiety, and depression, all of which fall under the umbrella of mental health.

Lamar Odom is in critical condition in a Las Vegas hospital after reportedly losing consciousness while indulging in a weekend filled with drugs, all while battling untreated mental illness.

Lamar Odom is in critical condition in a Las Vegas hospital after reportedly losing consciousness while indulging in a weekend filled with drugs, all while battling untreated mental illness.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As people flock to social media to offer prayers for former NBA star Lamar Odom, who won two championships with the LA Lakers and is now fighting for his life in a Las Vegas hospital, his struggles with drug addiction and untreated mental illness have surfaced.


Mental Health Awareness week was October 5 – 10, but the importance of receiving the necessary treatment for mental health issues cannot be understood in a week. There have been concerted efforts by many advocates and associations to preach the significance of addressing issues that impact mental health and encourage individuals to seek help, instead of suffering in silence.

Mental Health awareness week may have just ended but the issue of dealing with mental health issues is a daily struggle for many.

Mental Health Awareness Week just ended but the issue of dealing with mental health issues is a daily struggle for many.

One of the major impediments to receiving mental health treatment is the perception that the treatment is too expensive.

Many people are unaware that most health insurance plans now include mental health care as part of the basic plan. In fact, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, mental health can no longer be used to exclude individuals from coverage.

new adAccording to, “all Marketplace plans cover mental health and substance abuse services as essential health benefits.”
All healthcare plans must cover:
•Behavioral health treatment, such as psychotherapy and counseling
•Mental and behavioral health inpatient services
•Substance use disorder (commonly known as substance abuse) treatment

These inclusions are designed to reduce the financial impact of receiving treatment for many issues that fall under the umbrella of mental health. Among those issues that qualify as mental health concerns are grief, anxiety, and depression as well as other more severe diagnoses.

A list of diagnoses covered under mental health.

A list of diagnoses covered under mental health.

The other huge impediment to receiving mental health treatment is the stigma many feel is associated with being diagnosed with a mental illness.

This concern is recognized as being a considerable problem in the African-American community which is why education and awareness is so vital with this issue. Untreated mental health conditions can lead to suicidal and homicidal thoughts and actions.

Acknowledging that there are personal problems that are beyond your understanding is a good step in the right direction. The next step is to contact your insurance advisor and make sure you have a plan in place to deal with mental health concerns.––

Charles Glover, Jr., your Insurance Advisor, is a senior writer at and a Licensed Insurance Professional working with HealthMarkets. 

Contact me directly at (646)309-1938 for your health insurance questions and concerns

Fatherhood group highlights mental illness in timely webinar

Father interacts with his son.

An African-American father interacts lovingly with his son.

Washington DC., February 17, 2015: On Wednesday, February 18, from 12:30-2:00 p.m., the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) will host a webinar  to address mental illness.

This NRFC webinar will focus on ways in which fatherhood programs can talk with fathers about mental health issues. Specifically, we will provide tips on helping fathers identify and address mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) issues, talk about ways to address misperceptions about “mental illness,” and look at strategies to encourage prevention, resilience, and recovery.

We all know stress. Anxiety over a test in school. Worrying about paying a bill on time. Concern that something isn’t going right. Learning healthy ways to manage stress, for adults and for children, is key in maintaining a healthy physical and mental balance.

The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) shows ways to work with children to manage every day stress, recognize signs and find resources for adults with more serious mental health issues, and understand the distinctions of toxic stress and its impact on children and communities.

The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance.

For details, including registration information, visit the NRFC Events Calendar, email or call 1-877-4DAD411 [1-877-432-2411].–

Good mental health is important to achieving optimum 2015 lifestyles

Publicist, Author and Mental Health Advocate Terrie Williams.

Publicist, Author and Mental Health Advocate Terrie Williams.

By Carmen Glover

There is nothing as euphoric as the first light of a new year to make plans for improving in the areas of life in which we all fell short during the previous year. For 2015, it is natural for resolutions to be made, plans to be developed and promises devised, all in the name of ensuring a successful year.

Yet, while exercise regimens are established, gym memberships soar and resumes are freshened up, scant attention is typically paid to promoting optimum mental health. This can be a huge mistake that can shatter dreams, derail well-laid plans and cost lives. After all, without optimum emotional and mental well-being, it is difficult to navigate life’s challenges and stressors successfully.


American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino attempted to commit suicide in August 2010. Appearing on ABC News two weeks after being hospitalized she said : “I just wanted to get away f rom the noise.”

In the African-American community especially, mental health is not dealt with as part of preventive medical wellness checks. It’s not considered to be a routine part of a yearly physical and that oversight can lead to devastating results, most often, untreated mental illness resulting in suicides. For instance in August 2010, American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino tried to take her own life by overdosing on pills. After her hospitalization, she said of her suicide attempt:

“I just wanted to get away from the noise.” But Barrino is not alone, Don Cornelius, the genius who created Soul Train, shot himself to death with a firearm. Music executive with Violator Records Chris Lighty, Donny Hathaway and Phyllis Hyman were admired musical talents who committed suicide. Hathaway struggled with schizophrenia while Hyman was depressed and had bi-polar disorder. Hyman left a note stating “I’m tired. I’m tired.” Titi Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s line of natural hair products took her own life in December 2014.

don cornelius shot himself to death.

Soul Train creator Don Cornelius shot himself to death.

The stigma that is associated with mental health challenges and the fear of being ostracized professionally and socially often causes African-Americans to justify longstanding failures to obtain routine mental health assessments and follow-up diligently with treatment if a diagnosis is made. One significant exception to that approach is media personality, mental health advocate and author Terrie Williams.

Williams received undergraduate and master’s degrees in social work from Columbia University in New York City. She worked in the social service field for years, where she ultimately met and treated musician Myles Davis, who encouraged her to purse a career in public relations. Williams launched her public relations agency, The Terrie Williams Agency and attracted an impressive client list that included Essence Communications and actors Eddie Murphy and Nia Long. Williams went on to write the public relations Bible: “The Personal Touch.” I met Williams in 1999 when I served as the editor for the business and professional magazine “The Network Journal,” based in lower Manhattan.

Phyllis Hyman commited suicide in 1995 leaving behind  note which said: "i'm tired. I'm tired."

Phyllis Hyman committed suicide in 1995 leaving behind note which said: “I’m tired. I’m tired.”

I’ve seen Williams over the years at different events but I was puzzled when she  retreated from the spotlight.  While attending a regional conference for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) at the Associated Press (AP) headquarters in New York in October 2013, it was eye-opening to listen as Williams spoke passionately about the issue of mental health in the African-American community and her experience with the disease.

“I had a nervous breakdown,” Williams said candidly before urging journalists at the conference to “take time to love and care for yourselves.” She explained the fear that often consume African-Americans when they are confronted with mental health issues but she explained the importance of seeking help.


Symptoms of Depression, the main indicator that someone is in danger of committing suicide.

One of the myths of mental health awareness and treatment in the African-American society is the belief that seeking treatment means that the individual is “crazy.” There is nothing crazy about seeking help when it is needed. People from all walks of life experience a myriad of struggles, which sometimes include varying degrees of depression, which often leads to suicide.

It is prudent to seek preventive care before signs of discontent morph into symptoms of depression, which, if left untreated can deteriorate into severe or major depression that can lead to suicide.


The Suicide Prevention Hotline is an easily accessible resource if you feel overwhelmed and have suicidal ideation.

As the new year gets underway, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and loved ones is to be vigilant of mood swings and changes in routines so that issues that could lead to mental health illness are addressed before they are exacerbated. If necessary, make that important wellness call to 911 so that those who are experiencing crisis can get help before it is too late. It is unfortunate that as a community, African-Americans have lost many talented individuals whose battles with mental illness overwhelmed their lives.

Yet, the new year offers an opportunity for all of us to be more observant and aware so that preventive care is included in all resolutions and goal setting activities. That is the only way for 2015 to deliver optimum lifestyles for more people than was achieved in previous years.–