A word with an almost unparalleled amount of definitions is parity—a word I heard quite a number of times at the DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) Conference I attended over the weekend.
Parity (PEHR-i-TY) is a noun that means equality, or equivalent, and has its root in the Latin word par, or equal. A number of professional fields and industries use the word parity as a short-hand meaning for a specific type of equivalence. For example, in commodities exchange, parity refers to the legally established purchasing power between different kinds of money (i.e., U.S. Dollar vs. European Union Euro) at a given ratio. Whereas in quantum mechanics, parity is the property of oddness or evenness of any given quantum mechanical function; its balance, or equality, within the function. Parity is used with specific meaning in the fields of: physics, agriculture, mathematics, computer science, international sales, and geneology. (A two-fold, secondary definition of the word parity is "the state or fact of having borne offspring; the number of children one or a couple has borne.")
More recently, this week's word has made its way to the field of insurance—specifically health insurance with regard to mental health. The idea that a long-standing physical injury can be covered for repeated medical repair is often pointed to analogously by patients whose insurance limits the amount of visits or time they can spend in therapy or counseling for mental health issues. Eleven states now offer mental health parity in insurance coverage, opting to provide the same standards to those diagnosed with mental illness as they would to insurees who need physical therapy.
In my opinion, this is positive progress. Those who suffer from depression and other mental illness are in serious need of balance in every area of their lives. In what areas of your own life do you need to find some balance, or parity?
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