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POLICY: Nation’s Mental Healthcare System Gets “D” Grade,by Dr. Deborah Serani

There’s been some fuss about the recent grading of America’s mental health care “system”. Dr. Deborah Serani who’s usually to be found over on her Psychological Perspectives blog, explains what the new NAMI grading is all about, and no we don’t look good:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) the nation’s voice on mental illness, presented the first comprehensive state-by-state analysis of mental health care systems in 15 years in March 2006. Every U.S. state was scored on 39 specific criteria resulting in an overall grade and four sub-category grades for each state.

Nationally, the mental healthcare system is in trouble. It’s overall grade average is a "D". Five states receive grades in the B range. Eight receive F’s. None received A’s. And several states obtained a grade of "U", indicating an unresponsive score to the research data.In recent years, most =U.S. states either have reduced funding of services for people with serious mental illnesses or have level-funded these programs. The impact of inadequate funding has been devastating – we now see overflowing emergency rooms with no place for people to go, increased numbers of people with serious mental illnesses in jails and prisons, and large numbers of people without access to desperately needed services.Research shows that treatment works — if you can get it. But in America today, it is clear that many people living with the most serious and persistent mental illnesses are not provided with the essential treatment they need. As a result, they are allowed to falter to the point of crisis. The outcome of this neglect and lack of will by policymakers is catastrophic.The 230-page report, including individual state narratives and scoring tables, is available on-line at www.nami.org/grades.

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