Friday, March 20, 2009

Texas Scores a "D" for Mental Health

Texas can brag that the impact of the economic crisis is mild, but try and tell that to the hundreds of thousands of people on waiting lists for mental health services. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) gave Texas a D for Mental Health Services, down from a C in the 2006 report. Click here for the Texas Score Card and for the full report of the United States, click here. Innovations include Bexar County Jail Diversion, and urgent needs include funding for treatment in the community and improved access to services. Let's face it, if state hospitals are losing funding, and the advocacy groups want to close the state schools, where will these folks end up if not able to receive treatment locally? IN JAIL! This is a crisis driven system and all research supports that this is ultimately the most expensive system for the taxpayers. The best jail diversion and hospital diversion programs include plans to fund preventative and maintenance mental health programs. Pay a little now or a whole lot later! Would you rather spend $350 for one day of treatment at a state hospital because you are in crisis or $350 for one month in your community where you live? How much would you be willing to spend if it prevents a gruesome tragedy such as that in the case of Andre Thomas? Now we Texans will be spending $5 million to execute him (probably more in his case). How many people would $5 million treat and for how long? Texas taxpayers are saying to the Texas legislature that they are willing to risk tragedies such as that in Thomas' family AND the risk of having to pay the millions to execute him because it means we don't have to adequately pay for indigent mental health care. Would Texans rather live under this belief that the death penalty deters even the most psychotic, substance induced individual that we need to continue to funnel millions of dollars into supporting the death penalty when the cure can come in to the form of involuntary outpatient commitments and a $5.00 pill? Albeit, we cannot tell which person is the next Andre Thomas, but I guess for now, Texans are willing to risk it to save (or at least have the false belief they are saving) money. Email your legislator, tell them to fund mental health services. In this area, the waiting list is one year long!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen! When someone with a persistent and severe mental illness cannot get treatment at the local MHMR which, by design, serves the indigent population, until he gets so sick he has to be hospitalized, then discharged-a vision or mission has been LOST somewhere along the way. To get off the waiting list in some areas of the State you either have to get approved for medicaid, get so acutely ill hospitalization is required, or die. Where is the money most useful? It is certainly not where it is most popular or else indigent people with mental illnesses wouldn't be placed on a waiting list at a community mental health agency designed to serve the indigent population because they do not have a pay source. Please people, think!!!