About the Mental Health Parity Collaborative

What is Mental Health Parity?

In 1996, Congress passed the Mental Health Parity Act, the first federal law to require that certain insurance providers consider mental health benefits the same as they would medical or surgical benefits. This breakthrough legislation paved the way for improved access to mental health care for the public. In 2008, the Mental Health Equity and Substance Abuse Parity Act was enacted, and in 2010, the Affordable Care Act, which furthered its reach.

Yet today, across the U.S., parity between mental health care and medical health care is far from achieved. Millions of people struggle to find, receive, and afford appropriate mental health treatment, and as a result, are forced to pay out-of-network costs or do not receive care at all. More than half of U.S. adults with a mental illness, or 27 million people, receive no medical treatment—a number that has been rising since 2011. Roughly 1 in 10 people who struggle with mental illnesses have no health insurance, and 60 percent of children experiencing major depression are not receiving care.

Though stigma still shrouds awareness, mental health issues are pervasive and have serious implications. Each year, more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience a mental illness.

Our Collaborative

In 2022, The Carter Center officially launched the Mental Health Parity Collaborative, a collaboration of newsrooms around the country focused on expanding news coverage on mental health care access, parity, and inequities in the U.S.

Our first cohort included more than 40 reporters and editors from 15 outlets in six states, along with our national partner, The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in Washington, D.C. Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy provided research support. In 2023, our collaborative has continued and grown. Our second cohort includes our national partnerships and 20 news partners across eight states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.

Participating journalists receive resources, training, and networking opportunities to support their coverage ranging from stories on school-based mental health care to substance use treatment.  We were recognized by the Center for Cooperative Media as one of the top news collaborations of 2022.