Monday, August 10, 2009

Texas Mental Health System is Underfunded

From my SA:
Mental health system is underfunded, flawed

The case of a reportedly schizophrenic woman with postpartum psychosis, arrested late last month in the brutal murder of her 4-week-old son, has once again brought the lack of funding for the treatment of mental illness into the public conversation.

There has been much public outrage that the young mother did not get the medical attention she needed before her baby died.

The tragedy has left many in the community wondering what can be done to resolve the problems and frustrated at the lack of services available.

Unfortunately, once the news headlines in extreme cases such as this fade, so does the public focus on the problems of those who suffer from mental illness and their families.

The lack of funding for mental health services is not new.

Texas ranks 49th out of the 50 states when it comes to per capita funding for mental health service and has earned a D from the National Alliance on Mental Illness for its mental health care, Express-News staff writer Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje reported.

The local mental health care office is overwhelmed and its services are stretched to the limit.

It is serving a thousand more patients than it gets funded to treat. That cannot be good for the staff or its patients.

Quality of care suffers when the system is overburdened.

Unfortunately, in many cases it often takes a brush with the law before mental health services become available.

The county operates a very good diversion program to keep mentally ill inmates out of jail and get them into treatment.

In recent years, county officials also created mental health courts for juveniles and adults who come in contact with the criminal justice system.

The courts are designed to keep mentally ill people out of jail when they don’t get the services they so desperately need.

These are all much better alternatives to incarceration but are not nearly enough.

Many mentally ill individuals never come in contact with law enforcement or the criminal justice system, and they are often in the same desperate need of help.

It should not take a crisis to get them the help they need.

No comments: