Sunday, March 29, 2009

What is the Risk?

An estimated 4.5 million Americans have a severe mental illness, with 2.2 million people suffering from schizophrenia and another 2.3 million suffering with bi-polar disorder. On any given day, 1.8 million of these people go without treatment. The fact is that more than two-out-of-five of our most severely mentally ill people go untreated - placing the people who need treatment the most, and the whole nation, at risk.
People with untreated psychiatric illnesses constitute one-third, or between 150,000 and 200,000 people, of the estimated 744,000 homeless population.
These facts are from the Treat met Advocacy Center. The following is from their mission statement
The Treatment Advocacy Center is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illnesses. The Treatment Advocacy Center promotes laws, policies, and practices for the delivery of psychiatric care and supports the development of innovative treatments for and research into the causes of severe and persistent psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Right here is San Antonio, I see the impact of the deinstitutinalization of the mentally ill still being played out. Too many children and adolescents need longer care than a few days. Their lives consist of frequent interruption of school and socialization by trips to an acute care facility for a 5 day stay. For the seriously mentally ill children, this could happen 20-30 times before they are 18. Texas doesn't see the need to fund care for these kids for longer than a few days at a time. Juvenile justice systems are in need of an overhaul due to allegation of abuse and neglect. The system is broken. Has been for several years. Will we see any movement in the current administration? Will a nationalized health care system address this problem or will it just make it worse?
As the consequences of non-treatment continue to build, a new wave of reforms is under way in many states. States are abandoning dangerousness as the sole standard for assisted treatment. Instead they are facilitating needed intervention before tragedy occurs. These states are enacting and utilizing standards based on the need for treatment.
Is Texas one of these states? I invite you to visit this website, read the information and act as you feel you need to. remember, our Senate just ok'd a law allowing people to bring guns to the workplace and keep them in their cars. Look back at the statistics on how many people need treatment but can't get it. And now they may be armed. read the info at the site below. Let me know what you think.

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