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United States Earns "D" Grade for Disastrous Mental Health Care

Thursday, April 23, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: mental health, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has given the mental health care system of the United States a D grade, in the second such report released by the organization. In the first report, issued in 2006, the United States also received a D.

The report, available at www.nami.org, also ranks each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia on measures of financing and core treatment/recovery services (50 percent of grade), health promotion and measurement (25 percent), consumer and family empowerment (15 percent), and community integration and social inclusion (15 percent). Information was collected from a survey sent to state mental health agencies, as well as data collected by independent researchers on "the number of adults living with serious mental illnesses, the extent of shortages in the mental health workforce [and] hospital-based inpatient psychiatric bed capacity."

Fourteen states received better grades in 2009 than in 2006, while 12 received worse. Oklahoma made the greatest improvement, from a D to a B, while South Carolina made the worst progress, from a B to a D.

No states received As in 2009, although six received Bs: Connecticut, D.C., Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. Six states received Fs: Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. Eighteen received Cs, and 21 received Ds.

NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick warned that budget cuts are threatening an already crippled mental health care system.

"Ironically, state budget cuts occur during a time of economic crisis, when mental health services are needed even more urgently than before," he said. "It is a vicious cycle that can lead to ruin."

The organization recommends that states improve their grades by increasing public mental health care funding, improving data collection and accountability regarding outcomes, integrating mental and physical care, promoting recovery and respect, and increasing services for those most at risk with the most severe mental illness.

"The costs of our failure to provide adequate services to people with serious mental illnesses are also well known: Disproportionate dependence on public income supports and medical benefits; over-reliance on costly treatments in emergency rooms; high rates of incarceration in America's jails and prisons; and low rates of employment," NAMI said.

Sources for this story include: www.cnn.com; www.nami.org.

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