Advocacy E-News February 18, 2014
February 18, 2014
INSIDE A MENTAL HOSPITAL CALLED JAIL
Psychiatric disorders are the only kind of sickness that we as a society regularly respond to not with sympathy but with handcuffs and incarceration. And as more humane and cost-effective ways of treating mental illness have been cut back, we increasingly resort to the law-enforcement toolbox: jails and prisons. The same society that abhorred the idea that we lock people up in mental hospitals, now locks people up in jails.
In the 1800s, Dorothea Dix led a campaign against the imprisonment of the mentally ill, leading to far-reaching reforms and the establishment of mental hospitals. Now we as a society have, in effect, returned to the 1800s.
MEDICAID EXPANSION MAY STRAIN MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
As millions of Americans gain health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, experts say their higher rates of mental health and substance abuse disorders will be difficult to treat due to a lack of counselors and behavioral therapists who accept Medicaid patients. Further complicating the problem: Most mental health therapists in private practice won’t treat Medicaid patients because of the program’s low reimbursement rates.
FEDERAL JUDGE DISMISSES NEVADA ‘PATIENT DUMPING’ LAWSUIT
A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a civil lawsuit brought on behalf of a patient who was bused to Sacramento from a Nevada state psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas. The hospital had shipped about 1,500 psychiatric patients to states across the nation in a five year period. Those patients were put alone on buses for trips that often spanned multiple states and days. Many were sent to cities where they had no treatment or support. Some ended up homeless in their new location. Others were violent offenders who committed crimes in their new communities.
SMOKING CESSATION PROGRAMS ARE AN INVESTMENT NEW JERSEY
While we can boast that New Jersey’s smoking rate is below the national average, digging just a little deeper shows that this is not true for our most vulnerable populations. Smoking rates are highest among individuals living below the poverty line, and those suffering from mental illness smoke at rates almost double the national average. In fact, people with mental health diagnoses die, on average, earlier than those without mental illness. Approximately 50 percent of these deaths are caused by tobacco-related illness.
It is time for New Jersey to follow the lead of the surgeon general, CVS and every other state in the country and invest in smoking cessation and prevention. It will save state taxpayers millions of dollars and will protect the next generation from needless suffering and death.
CHANGING THE CONVERSATION ON MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE
Discussion about suicide needs to change from discussion of “such a shame, she had a bright future,” to the deeper issues plaguing these students. Every year since 1999, more Americans have killed themselves than the year before, making suicide the nation’s greatest unnatural cause of death. The second-leading cause of death among U.S. college students is suicide, accounting for about 1,100 per year.
It is time to ignite a conversation about the causes that lead to a downward spiral of mental health, and to provide members of our campus communities with the courage and resources to address the triggers of suicide.