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July 27, 2009 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-07-27

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Monday, July 27, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Total coverage



Irecentlyran into a family friend
at a coffee shop. After covering
all the important hometown
gossip, our dis-
cussion turned
to the future of
health care. As a
psychologist, my _
friend expressed
concern that '
in all the talk _
about reform- MATTHEW
ing the healthG
care system, she GREEN
hadn't heard of
any plans for mental health cover-
age. As someone who has seen the
positive effect of psychotherapy in
people's lives, I was disappointed
to find out that insurance providers
place inadequate value on it. Later, a
Google search suggested that there
isn't a provision for universal men-
tal health care in the works.
In the threefold healthcare plan
that President Barack Obama has
outlined, "prevention" is the third
step in improving the health care
paradigm, after insurance reform
and technology advancement. But
while "prevention" is illustrated
rather thoroughly on baracko-
bama.com - better nutrition, can-
cer screenings, electronic health
records, etc. - the plan entirely
disregards the nexus between men-
tal well-being and physical health.
According to the American Psycho-
logical Association's website, "50
to 70 percent of visits to primary
care physicians are for medical
complaints that stem from psycho-
logical factors." These factors are
primarily depression and anxiety.
That figure might sound ridicu-
lous. But when you consider that
health concerns ranging from blood
pressure and ulcers to acne often
have a psychological root, those
numbers mightnotactually seem so
absurd. Patients confuse these mal-
adies as purely physiological prob-
lems - but these issues are really
psychological in nature. Rather
than searching for a physical reme-
dy, the more prudent decision might
be to take a psychological approach.
Such a solution might even end up
beingcheaper in the long run with-
out the costs of exams, medical
technology and physical treatment,
somethingObama's healthcareplan
should consider.
Even current private insurers
rarely provide adequate coverage
for mental health care. Many insur-
ance plans cap mental health care
much more strictly than physical
health maintenance. A comprehen-
sive plan for health reform should
include coverage for the treat-

ment of mental illness and ought
to set limits for such treatment on
par with limits on physical medi-
cal care. In other words, a patient
should not have unlimited visits to a
physician but only 15 lifetime visits
to a mental health professional.
And the sad irony is that the least
financially fortunate, who are more
prone than others to mental illness
given their destitution, are often
faced with meager or no insurance
coverage for mental care. These are
people who need comprehensive
health care plans the most and are
the least able to obtain it.
Setting aside socioeconomic dis-
parities and psychosomatic condi-
tions -both ofwhichareimportant
health care realities - there are two
additional relevant problems when
it comes to psychological affects on
physical health: substance abuse
and obesity. These problems are
widespread in the U.S., and are
largely caused by mental vulner-
ability. It would seem that in the
government's quest to eliminate
health costs through "prevention,"
minimizing obesity and substance
abuse should be relatively easy to
facilitate through appropriate psy-
chological attention.
Mental health
care is not
In all the discussion about health
care and the government, it seems
that mental health care has been
ignored by both sides. Maybe it's
because psychotherapy is often dif-
ficult to understand or believe, or
perhaps politicians and pundits are
too myopic to think outside the box
about health care reform in gen-
eral. But as universal health care
becomes more and more likely, psy-
chological well-being needs to be
thrown into the debate.
It may be that by remaining
vague, Obama was hoping to pro-
vide Congress with a basic frame-
work upon which the legislature
might create a balanced plan that
would be more likely to pass into
law. NowthatCongressisgoinginto
recess during August, all congress-
men ought to meticulously deliber-
ate on health care reform and take
the time to think seriously about
mental health care. They'd have to
be nuts not to.
- Matthew Green can be
reached at greenmat@umich.edu.

So riddle me this.I took But ifI wantto work out Youw k out?
springclassesand fa at the CCRB during
enroed in fall classes, right? summer term, I have to pay want to woalittle
for a membership ader there pl
Okay. What's up with that?
Fl -

A pplying to graduate
schools is a frustrating
task. It's made even more
when you're an
student who
doesn't quali-
fy for federal
financial aid,
like me. And-
at a time when EMAD
local assistance ANSARI
programs like
the Michigan
Promise Zone Scholarship are
under threat, it's even harder to
draw attention to the financial
woes of international students.
It's pertinent to mention - and
easy to forget - that the effects
of the economic climate stretch
past national boundaries and
affect the ability to afford tuition
of prospective international stu-
dents and local students alike.
Unless international students are
provided even limited access to
scholarships and financial assis-
tance, the University will find
its international student popula-
tion dwindling and the quality of
overseas applicants declining.
When I applied to college, my
high school classmates bemoaned
the University's aid policy toward
international students. Many who
found themselves excluded from
the pool of funds opted for liberal
arts colleges like Carleton College
and Macalester College in Min-
nesota - both of which offered
significant scholarship opportu-
nities for overseas applicants.
The lack of funding opportu-
nities means that the University
attracts a certain type of inter-
national student - one with
the ability to pay the burgeon-
ing tuition fees the institution
demands. Cast in that light, inter-
national students are mistakenly
perceived as deep-pocketed and
unworthy. But while academic

standards dispel that image and
help maintain a minimum stan-
dard of excellence, a complete
absence of substantial financial
assistance deters even more qual-
ified prospective applicants.
Those who do attend find
themselves trimmingthe edges of
their degree programs. By either
accepting credits for advanced
high school courses or overload-
ing on courses, financially con-
strained students attempt to
graduate ahead of time. Caught
in a frenzied attempt to cut four
years in college down to three,
these students relinquish the tre-
mendous opportunities offered
on campus.
On top of rushed degrees,
international students are forced
to work or apply for student loans.
And while that's not unusual for
college students, the burden on
international students is consid-
erably higher. Most international
students arrive onF-1visas, which
prohibit off-campus employment,
and the search for work-study
employment opportunities is
arduous in a limited market. In
addition, most University-affili-
ated employers specify national-
ity or permanent residence in the
United States as prerequisites for
vacant jobs.
High-interest loans, in turn,
are hardly viable options for
already-burdened students.
Repaying loans restricts options
for graduates - international stu-
dents must work in the U.S. rather
than return home to contribute in
their own countries.
It's not surprising that inter-
national students haven't made
a concerted effort to obtain
aid from the University. Such
demands would be countered
with a barrage of retorts, partic-
ularly in the current recession. A
public university awarding funds
to international students when
in-state students sweat for finan-

cial aid would be accused of mis-
placed priorities.
But consider my proposition
- five significant scholarships
exclusively earmarked for inter-
national students, based both on
financial need and merit. That's
hardly an outrageous request.
Granted, the extremely limited
scholarships would not ease the
financial woes of all international
students, but they would gener-
ate a more competitive pool of
applicants and provide a prece-
dent for international students to
build upon and rally around.
students can't
find funding.
More importantly, the assis-
tance would protect global repre-
offered along country-specific cri-
teria. Each year, the London School
of Economics and Political Science
awards renewable yearly scholar-
ships to students from Mauritius,
Pakistan, Israel, Brazil and Hong
Kong. In Ann Arbor, the number
of freshmen from less represented
states like Bangladesh or Egypt
isn't likely to increase unless stu-
dents are provided some codified
incentive by the University.
Denied financial aid and fea-
sible scholarships, international
students are forced into restric-
tive options that inhibit both
their college experience and
future prospects. Unless this
burden is eased, representation
is protected and more qualified
applicants are attracted, only an
isolated few will benefit from a
University education.
- Emad Ansari can be reached
at heansari@umich.edu.

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