Although this article was written about Florida and published in the online form of the Tallahassee Democrat, I think this lady makes very astute observations and comes to very well thought out and well presented conclusions.
I have always wondered why the mentally ill only seem to get treatment is through the ER, where they are not wanted, or in the local jail or prison, where they are vulnerable.
I know that just about every person in the US has some contact with a mentally unstable or emotionally unstable person. These are not “other people” but rather these people are “us”. The sooner we all understand that the better.
Please visit the site and read the original article, then let me know if you agree that she makes sense.
Judi Evans • My View • March 9, 2010
As the state’s 2010 budget balancing act takes center stage, we can’t ignore the cost-saving value of mental health care for people with severe mental illness.
More than 600,000 Floridians have severe disorders such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder. We have all been touched in some way by someone who lives with mental illness.
Treatment works — if you can get it. With treatment, people with mental illness often recover the ability to succeed in school and work, raise families and contribute to their communities.
While people with mental illness often receive some treatment, the question is where, and what type?
Will they get community mental health treatment or will they resort to an emergency room ($1,300 per visit) or hospital ($1,600 per day)? Will they go to a youth detention center ($3,240 a month), jail ($1,400 month) or prison ($3,840 a month)? Will they become homeless ($8,000 a year) or attempt suicide ($10,000 per attempt)? And what happens to those who have served our country, our veterans, who cannot access mental health services through the Veterans Administration?
The bottom line is that timely intervention in community-based services saves lives and makes prudent use of the public dollar.
Severe cuts are being recommended for our mental health system of care, even though the need for this care is increasing. Florida unemployment rates have reached the highest level in 25 years. Unemployed workers are four times more likely than those with jobs to report symptoms of severe mental illness, and four times as many report thoughts of harming themselves.
The state’s mental health system, weakened by years of underfunding, is fragile to the point of collapse and cannot take any more cuts without spilling uncontrolled costs into other sectors. Tough times require wise decisions. The public-private infrastructure developed over the past 25 years is now at risk, and lives are at stake.
Preserving Florida’s funding for mental health services is essential for our future. We insist that Gov. Charlie Crist and our state legislators stand together to save mental health and vote to save lives.
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