I’ve been trying for days to find uplifting and hopeful articles about the state of mental health care in the US. I have obviously failed. All I find are articles outlining the failures of mental health systems, the criminalization of mental health, the financial cutbacks that occur routinely in mental health, the effects of lack of treatment on our communities, and the effects of untreated mental illness on families and individuals.
I keep hoping that we, as a nation, will come to realize that mental health issues will not be going away anytime soon, if ever, and we need to be proactive in our approach to dealing with this issue. Currently, we simply ignore or have “knee-jerk” type reactions to individual problems that make their way into the news–like murder, bizarre behavior, etc.
Below is another article that describes the failure of our current system. Please read it and think about how we can become proactive. Maybe we all need to talk to our legislators daily?
December 16, 2009 2:00 AM
DURHAM — A new report from the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability and the N.H. Bureau of Behavioral Health calls for a fundamental revision of the state’s approach for treating mental and physical health and substance use disorders.
“New Hampshire’s approach to health care fails to systematically incorporate a comprehensive approach to health,” said report author Peter Antal, an IOD researcher. “This is evidenced by limited expertise in emotional/mental health care among primary care providers, high staff turnover at community mental health centers and an inconsistent coordination of services across major service sectors in New Hampshire.”
The report, “New Hampshire’s Prescription for Mental Health Care,” utilizes local and national research to document factors that make achieving and maintaining good health challenging for those with mental illness.
Those living with mental illness make up a substantial portion of the population and represent all major aspects of society. The report states they tend to face greater health challenges and pay annual medical care costs almost three times higher than those without mental illness. Community resources are often scarce, as 50 percent of mental health providers surveyed indicated they don’t know where to refer people for needed services, the report states.
Those living with more severe forms of mental illness face greater challenges as they are more likely have low incomes and are at increased risk of homelessness, not having transportation to access care and becoming victims of violent crime.
Antal said the need for change is linked not only to the above factors, but also to growing demand for mental health services while support for care is being reduced. Without substantive change, more residents will not receive care needed to help ensure successful recovery, he said. This would reduce individuals’ ability to be actively involved in their communities and create long-term costs for every state resident, he said.
NH Bureau of Behavioral Health’s administrator Erik G. Riera emphasized the need to develop innovative, sustainable solutions that will support improvement in services across health care providers.
“Given the continued drop in financial support for mental health services across the state and the increase in projected demand, it will be imperative that we work across service sectors to create a more effective and sustainable system of health care for individuals living with mental illness,” he said.
Efforts, he said, will involve working with the state’s Mental Health Council as well as mental health counselors, primary care providers, consumers and their families, insurance companies, employers and other state and national advocacy groups.
“To create change,” added Antal, “we need a strategy and dedicated action to proactively meet the long-term needs of populations with complex health issues.”
To download the report, visit www.iod.unh.edu/pdf/PMHS09_brief.pdf.
To read the original article please click here