States slash $1.8 billion in mental health funds since 2009
Here’s an article I found that shows how serious the situation is becoming in the state of Mental Health Care in our country. We cannot afford to sit by and allow these cuts to continue. Becoming an ostrich and sticking our collective heads in the sand does not fix the problem. The mentally ill are in every community across the world and they rarely receive the help they need. There is such a terrible need for outpatient services in our communities to actually help our mentally ill live lives of productivity instead of lives of frustration and violence.
I hope this article from USAToday is interesting to you and helps you to see the enormity of the existing problem.
By Sophie Terbush, USA TODAY
Since 2009, state legislatures have cut $1.8 billion in non-Medicaid mental health spending, according to a report released today by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Vital services cut include community- and hospital-based psychiatric care, inpatient housing and access to medications for tens of thousands of adults and children living with serious mental illnesses, the report says. Deeper cuts are projected for 2011 and 2012.
“On any given day, half the people with serious mental illness in this country receive no treatment,” says Michael Fitzpatrick,
executive director of the alliance. “If you don’t have the ability to do early intervention and public education so family members, the public, police and college administrators understand what mental illness is and how to get treatment, there’s a price to pay.”
Fitzpatrick adds that the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in Tucson has put the spotlight on the public mental health system. One important lesson learned, he says: “Get people into treatment when they need it.”
One in 17 Americans lives with a serious psychological disorder such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder, according to the report. About one in 10 children live with a serious disorder.
The cuts from state general funds for mental health services amount to 40% of total spending, the report says.
States cutting the most of mental health budgets: Kentucky (47.5%), Alaska (35.0%), South Carolina (22.7%) and Arizona (22.7%).
But 18 states increased mental health spending, the report notes. Adding the most was Oregon, with a 23.2% increase ($71 million from 2009-2011). Others ranged from 20.9% in North Carolina and 11.2% in Idaho to 0.2% in Florida.
Services cut in 2010 include emergency hospital treatment, long-term hospitalization, clinic services and crisis intervention programs.
Law enforcement, judges and emergency rooms are becoming the front-line responders for people in crisis. “If you look at who’s in county jails and juvenile facilities, many have a mental health diagnosis,” Fitzpatrick says. “If you don’t have services available in their community, there are unintended consequences.”
For people with mental illness, the emergency department of a hospital can be an access point into the health care system, says Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians in Washington, D.C.
“Already in emergency departments, patients are waiting days and weeks to get a bed in an inpatient facility,” she says.
With fewer places for patients with mental illness to go, “while they’re not receiving psychiatric care, they are often sedated, wandering around in the emergency department waiting for the proper facility to open up a bed,” and the first available bed may be hundreds of miles away from the patient’s home, she says.