This is not only good for the person who needs treatment, but also for their families, neighbors, and communities.
While this isn’t the ultimate answer, it’s sometimes best to heed the advice of Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” As previously stated, there are approximately 10 times more people with mental health issues incarcerated than there are being treated in state-funded hospitals.
What is perhaps saddest about this statistic is that as states have cut funding for mental health services, they have increased funding for jails and prisons.
Many prisons have few, if any, mental health treatment options.
However, that same person might be surprised to learn that the largest single-facility provider of mental health services in the United States today is not a mental health facility, hospital, or community center at all. In 2012, more than 350,000 people with mental health conditions were living in jails and prisons, whereas only about 35,000 people were treated in state-funded impatient psychiatric institutions.
According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 40% of adults diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar issues remained untreated in the previous year, and as many as 60% of adults diagnosed with a mental health concern went without any treatment.Too often, prisoners don’t get the medication they need and they’re unlikely to receive therapy or any other type of meaningful support.Since prison beds appear to be replacing the beds in psychiatric units, trained mental health professionals should be employed in the penitentiaries, not just for brief evaluations but for continued care and support.This was the last piece of legislation President Kennedy signed just weeks before his assassination, and while it ushered in a newfound optimism toward mental health care, its vision was never fully realized.Regrettably, most of the necessary support for the proposed community mental health facilities was never provided, resulting in less than half of these centers being constructed and many people getting lost in the transition from state facilities to community-based facilities.However, only about a third of those estimated costs actually go toward treatment.The majority the 4 billion is spent in the form of disability payments and lost productivity.Instead, mental health as an issue was largely ignored, as it often is.Each year, an estimated 590,000 Americans, who would be receiving mental health care in a better system, fall through the cracks.When all other services have been cut, an emergency room is one of the few places where they won’t be turned away.The reality is that by increasing rather than cutting mental health care budgets, the country would ultimately save billions.