Our national mental health care system is in crisis. Long fragile, fragmented, and inadequate, it is now in serious peril. In 2003, the presidential New Freedom Commission presented a vision for a life-saving, recovery-oriented, cost-effective, evidence-based system of care. States have been working to improve the system, but progress is minimal.
Today, even those states that have worked the hardest stand to see their gains wiped out. As the country faces the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, state budget shortfalls mean budget cuts to mental health services.
The country as a whole was graded D. No states received an A grade, and only six (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oklahoma) received a B. Eighteen states got C’s, a whopping 21 got D’s – and 6 states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming) got a failing grade – F. The state I live in, Alaska, received a D.
To see your states report card, go to http://www.nami.org/gtsTemplate09.cfm?Section=Grading_the_States_2009
The budget cuts are coming at a time when mental health services are even more urgently needed. It is a vicious cycle that destroys lives and creates more significant financial troubles for states and the federal government in the long run.
One in four Americans experience mental illness at some point in their lives. The most serious conditions affect 10.6 million people. Mental illness is the greatest cause of disability in the nation, and twice as many Americans live with schizophrenia than with HIV/AIDS.
We know what works to save lives and help people recover. In the face of crisis, America needs to move forward, not retreat. We cannot leave our most vulnerable citizens behind.
NAMI was the source of this study, you can see it at: http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Grading_the_States_2009/Overview1/Overview.htm