Our Eroded Mental Healthcare System


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Our Eroded Mental Healthcare System

Americans like to talk about crises. Well there’s a massive crisis that’s being overlooked.
In our own heads, our schools, on our streets, and in our jails.

61.5 million American adults experience mental illness in a given year
13.6 million have serious mental illness:
Major depression
or Bipolar disorder
60% of which have an unmet need for mental healthcare

The Problem: Outpatient care has practically vanished since the “de-institutionalization” of the 60’s and 70’s
The Solution: The Community Mental Health Center Act of 1963 called for funding for 1,500 outpatient centers.
The Problem With the Solution: 50 years later only 650/1,500 have been built.
The Reality: Often those who aren’t deemed an “imminent threat” to themselves or others won’t get committed.

For children coverage is worse.
With less than 1/4 of the estimated mentally ill children receiving treatment.

We don’t have a coordinated system for:
Or Tracking and following up with those with mental illnesses.

There are tons of people that need help:[6]

2.4 million American adults (1.1%) live with schizophrenia
6.1 million American adults (2.6%) live with bipolar disorder
9.2 million American adults (4.2%) live with co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders
14.8 million American adults (6.7%) live with major depression
42 million American adults (18.1%) live with anxiety disorders (OCD, panic disorders, PTSD, phobias)

Mental Health Spending Per Capita:[3]
$75 of less: Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida
$76-$105: New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, Rhode Island
$106-$160: California, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Mississippi, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire
$161+: All other states

A lack of treatment leads to increased criminalization of the mentally ill

There are 4 times as many mentally ill prisoners as in 1998.[4]
With prisoners being 5 times likelier to have a mental illness than the general population
56.2% of prisoners
11% of the general population

Women in prison have a particularly high chance of being mentally ill:
[% of inmates with a mental illness by gender]
Women: 73%
Men: 55%

In 2012 there were 10 times as many mentally ill people imprisoned than in state hospitals:

35,000 mentally ill patients in hospitals
356,000 mentally ill inmates in prisons and jails
In 44 states and D.C. there are more people locked up with serious mental illness than in any state psychiatric hospital.

Due to lack of treatment and misunderstandings, the outcomes are horrible.

With the mentally ill ending up in jail for longer.
Florida’s Orange County Jail Average Stay: 26 Days
Average Stay for Mentally Ill Inmates: 51 Days

New York’s Riker’s Island Jail Average Stay: 42 Days
Average Stay for Mentally Ill Inmates: 215

And being punished more severely.

By fellow inmates:
Higher assault
Sexual assault rates

And by guards:
Lack of treatment
Solitary Confinement.

Costing more because jails aren’t equipped to house hundreds of mentally ill patients:
In Washington State:
Average cost to house a prisoner: $30,000
Average cost to house a mentally ill prisoner: $100,000

“Prisons are woefully ill-equipped for their current role as the nation’s primary mental health facilities.”
Jamie Fellner, Director, U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch

As well as to many more suicides

40,000 people died by suicide last year.
That’s more than 1/1000 Americans.

Or 70 on any given game day at a pro football stadium

And those are just the most extreme outcomes.

The costs are too high. Don’t let mental healthcare continue to go by the wayside.

Public Psychiatric Beds per 100,000 Population:
1955: 340
Experts suggest a minimum of: 50
2005: 17
95% of the beds available in 1955 are no longer available.



  1. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/mental-health.htm
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/31/mental-health-services-erode-state-budgets_n_2387413.html
  3. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/record-numbers-mentally-ill-prisons-and-jails
  4. http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/05/us-number-mentally-ill-prisons-quadrupled
  5. http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/
  6. http://www.nami.org/factsheets/mentalillness_factsheet.pdf
  7. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/04/map-states-cut-treatment-for-mentally-ill