A recent article in the Detroit Free Press highlighted the problem of providing medical care for the mentally ill. As Eric Millikin points out, while the state of Michigan decided in 2003 to close down most of the state’s psychiatric hospitals and thereby encourage a shift to local care, the funding for the care has been hard to come by.
Funding cuts have, over the last two decades, forced tens of thousands of mentally ill people into county jails, state prisons and homeless shelters and over half of the 500,00 seriously mentally ill people in the state lack publicly funded mental health services. State law also works against these folks in that it lacks mental health insurance parity laws.
The bottom line, according to Millikin, is that the state needs an adequately funded and more efficient Community Mental Health system, as well as sufficient psychiatric hospital beds to serve the seriously ill.
The reality is that cutting funding for the mentally ill has its costs. More cuts means fewer services, which translates into increased spending for police departments, state prisons and hospitals.
Treatment can help save lives, but when the state fails to provide help for those who cannot help themselves, the human cost can also be great.
Those suffering with mental illnesses can qualify for Social Security Disability, and this can help provide for their needs. With many mental illnesses, simply receiving the proper treatment can give an ill individual their life back and give them a fighting chance.
Source: Detroit Free Press, “Jeff Gerritt: Deinstitutionalizing Michigan’s mentally ill has been an underfunded disaster,” Eric Millikin, September 16, 2012