Aiperi Iusupova, Staff Writer
October 2, 2015
Public psychiatric services have long been suppressed by a corrupt mental health industry, whose value systems and accountability have hurt thousands of mentally ill people and the people around them.
In June, Congress introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act to address the inefficiency of the mental health system in the United States.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, mental health programs will receive $172 billion in federal and state taxpayer funds as a result of the act. However, only a third of this financial grant goes to mitigating issues related to homelessness, incarceration, arrest, and hospitalization of seriously mentally ill patients.
The medical treatment of mentally unsettled individuals should involve caretaking in their day-to-day lives. Instead, people who have extreme mental health challenges are more likely to be arrested and suffer time in prison.
To solve this problem we should be questioning whether current legislation offers improvement of federal privacy laws, expansion of the mental-health workforce and facilitation of quality treatment of patients with severe mental health problems.
The current mental health system has turned into a big industry that coordinates the federal programs and various agencies in mental health, education, substance abuse, addiction and law enforcement. However, it has hardly contributed to the improvement of the nation’s mental-illness treatment system.
It has spent more funds on improving the behavioral health of all Americans rather than treating patients with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression.
“It is an unfortunate case when the healthcare system is charged with deciding which group of people won’t be receiving help,” said junior and psychology major Ro Lutenbacher.
The cause of this problem is an inability of mental health services to recognize that the total number of individuals with severe and persistent mental disorders has increased with the increase of wider societal trends, such as the growth of mass shootings, homicides and other violent acts.
According to National Review statistics, solving this problem could help to reduce “164,000 adults with serious mental illness who are homeless; 365,000 who are in jails and prisons; 770,000 who are on probation or parole; 95,000 who should be hospitalized.”
Although several studies suggest that money distributed for preventative, or behavioral, care of all mentally ill patients is cost-effective, it is often true that the government ends up spending more money on supporting shelters for homeless and keeping inmates with psychiatric problems in prisons.
“Preventative healthcare is important in many ways, but there are very few to no resources given for curative health care of seriously mentally ill (people) who are put into jails or mental health institutions because they are danger to society,” said junior Tasmia Zafar, biology and health science double- major. “They deserve to be treated.”
This issue should compel the attention of politicians and lawmakers to propose adequate treatment reforms and address the current state of mental health care in the United States, considering patients with life-threatening and severe mental disorders.
Congress should allocate more funds to a curative type of care rather than preventative treatment of people with mental illness. The crisis in American mental health care can be addressed by replacing the current mental health care industry with an efficient and transparent health care system that focuses not on behavioral prevention but on curing and treating diagnosed mental illness.