The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

California overhauls mental health department

Here is an article from that talks about a change in the way mental healthcare will be handled in an attempt to balance the budget.  Once again, staff to patient ratios become a focus and in this article the California governor wants mental health to be staffed in such a way as to cut staffing patterns by up to one-third of the staff.  The pilot program proposes to put more psychologists and psychiatrists with the aggressive patients, which is nice, but those are not the people who will be dealing face-to-face with the aggression.  They will be sitting in the nurse’s station during most emergent situations.

Here’s some of this article.  I suggest you click over to read the full article if this story scares you as much as it does me.


By JUDY LIN Associated Press
Posted: 12/12/2011 11:52:37 AM PST
Updated: 12/12/2011 04:52:14 PM PST

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—California has begun transitioning its mental health services program to concentrate care on the most serious patients residing in state mental hospitals and prisons, but the cost-cutting move is raising concerns about patient care from state workers.The state announced last week it will hand off more responsibility for public mental health programs to counties as part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s ongoing push to move services to California’s local governments. The administration says the reorganization will allow the state to form a new Department of State Hospitals that focuses exclusively on 6,300 patients in state hospitals and prisons.

“We think that as a package we’re providing a set of proposals that saves money but doesn’t change the quality of care and also increases safety,” Department of Mental Health acting-chief deputy director Kathy Gaither said in an interview Monday.

Earlier this year, state mental health officials assigned a committee to come up with a plan to improve care and safety while also finding places to cut costs within the state’s mental hospital system. The committee returned with a blueprint for overhauling the department’s policies and procedures. It cuts 346 positions in the current year to save $122.6 million and eliminates 620 positions to save $193 million next year.

The administration says it does not plan layoffs because many of those positions are already vacant or can be done through attrition.

The department currently has a $1.3 billion general fund budget.Safety Now!, a coalition of psychiatric technicians, physicians and other state hospital workers, warns that the plan would reduce staffing ratios by nearly one-third.

“It is clear that only short-term monetary goals are driving the state’s decision to cut staff,” Stuart Bussey, a doctor and president of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists said in a statement. “We know that if treatment staff are cut, patient safety will certainly deteriorate further, and assaults will increase—and that will ultimately cost the state of California more money in lawsuits than these proposed cuts will save.”

The new structure reduces patient-to-staff ratios, a move state officials say is needed to cut down on the use of overtime and contract staff—the two single biggest drivers of increased hospital spending. The department plans to modify staff levels based on the patients’ needs, putting more psychologists and psychiatrists with the most serious and aggressive patients and fewer with the more stable patients.

This week the Department of Mental Health will start with a pilot program at Atascadero State Hospital to treat its most aggressive patients together. If successful, that approach could expand to the state’s four other mental hospitals, Metro, Napa, Coalinga and Patton, along with two psychiatric programs at Vacaville and Salinas Valley state prisons.

Felisa Hamman, a nurse at Atascadero State Hospital, said it’s good the state is testing out the enhanced treatment unit, but she worries about other patients with personality disorders who have assaulted staff…[read more]

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December 18, 2011 Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

UCLA: Little or no treatment for 2 million Californians with mental health problems

One and Other-Mental Health

Image by Feggy Art via Flickr


Here’s an article that describes just how poorly we, as a society, are doing in helping those who have a mental illness or are having emotional/psychological issues that are situational.  California leads the nation in the healthcare field.  This article is based on a study funded by the California Department of Mental Health.


The statistics in this article are certainly eye-opening.  If we continue to ignore this problem, it obviously is not going to go away.  Many people are suffering unnecessarily because of stigma, money, lack of availability of care, or just lack of knowledge about mental illness.


Do we really want to be ostriches with regard to the issue of mental health?  It seems we do.  Please read this article from the Central Valley Business Times and then let me know your opinion on this topic, won’t you?




December 5, 2011 10:42am


Serious psychological distress, event difficulty functioning, are commonplace


•  ‘There is a huge gap between needing help and getting help’

Nearly two million California adults need mental health treatment, but most receive no services or inadequate services, says a new report by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.


The lack of treatment is in spite of a state law mandating that health insurance providers include mental health treatment in their coverage options, the report says.



How bad are the problems? The UCLA researchers say one in 12 Californians reported symptoms consistent with serious psychological distress and experienced difficulty functioning at home or at work.



Over half of these adults reported receiving no treatment for their disorders, and about one-quarter received “inadequate” treatment, defined as less than four visits with a health professional over the past 12 months or using prescription drugs to manage mental health needs.



The study draws on data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), which is conducted by the Center.



“There is a huge gap between needing help and getting help,” says David Grant, the study’s lead author and director of CHIS. “The data also shows large disparities in mental health status and treatment by demographic, economic and social factors. These findings can help direct the state’s limited resources to those in greatest need of help.”



Unsurprisingly, says the report, uninsured adults had the highest rate of unmet needs (87 percent), which includes receiving no treatment or receiving less than minimally adequate treatment; 66 percent of these adults received no treatment.



By contrast, 77 percent of privately insured and 65 percent of publicly insured Californians reported unmet needs. Although poverty and mental health needs are strongly correlated, the lower rate of unmet needs by public program participants suggests that these programs are more likely to effectively offer mental health services than even private insurance policies.



Other findings include:



• Single adults with children had more than double the rate of mental health needs (17 percent) when compared with all adults (8 percent). Single adults without children had the next highest rate (11 percent). Married adults with or without children had the lowest rates of mental health needs (6 percent and 5 percent, respectively.)



• Nearly 12 percent of Hispanics born in the U.S. needed mental health treatment, almost twice the level of Hispantic immigrants.



• Approximately 17 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives had mental health needs, the highest of all racial and ethnic groups. Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and multi-racial groups had the next highest rate, at 13 percent.



• Nearly 20 percent of these adults needed mental health treatment — more than double the statewide rate.



• Compared to the general adult population, those with mental health needs had higher rates of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and asthma. They were more than twice as likely to report fair or poor health status and five times more likely to report poor health.



The report was supported by a grant from the California Department of Mental Health.


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December 6, 2011 Posted by | Mental Health | , , , | 1 Comment

One in five Californians say they need mental health care

Image for mental health stubs, uses two psych ...
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Here’s a study from the LA Times about the need for mental health treatment in the state of California.  Now I do understand that we all believe that California is full of unique individuals, but I really don’t believe that these figures are that far off the mark for the entire continental United States.  When I worked in California, the number of patients in treatment at the hospital was really about the same as I find here in Texas.

I think we all need to pay attention to these numbers.  We are not doing anything to help this population and that is not really acceptable.

Let me know what you think about this study, please.


July 28, 2010

Almost 5 million California adults say they could use help with a mental or emotional problem, according to a survey released Wednesday by researchers at UCLA. About 1 million of them meet the criteria for “serious psychological distress.”

However, only one in three people who perceive a need for mental health services or are in serious distress have seen a professional for treatment, the survey found.

The survey was conducted among more than 44,000 adults as part of the 2005 California Health Interview Survey, administered through the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Since the survey was conducted, the recession probably has contributed to worsening mental health for even more people, said the lead author of the study, David Grant.

The survey showed that lack of health insurance coverage was a major reason why people didn’t seek help — a situation that may be rectified somewhat by state and national mental health parity laws now in effect that require insurers to cover mental health conditions similarly to they way they cover physical conditions. (The final phase of the federal law went into effect on July 1.) However, stigma continues to be a barrier to mental health services. The survey found that men, people 65 and older, Latinos and Asians were less likely to seek help because of the stigma associated with mental or emotional problems. But being poor is the biggest barrier to care.

According to the survey:…<click here to read more>

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August 2, 2010 Posted by | Mental Health | , , , | 1 Comment