September 28, 2010
Arlington, Va.—State mental health agencies (SMHAs) provide direct services to between 15 to 60 percent of people living with serious mental illnesses in their states, according to state-by-state figures reported today by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
State mental health services are being cut dramatically, however, even as need has increased due to the nation’s economic crisis.
Medicaid is the other major funding source of mental health care for people with serious mental illness, but also has been subject to cuts.
See State Table Below
"State mental health agencies cannot do it alone," said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "They serve only a fraction of those who need help—and they
struggle to do so with shrinking budgets."
Even without budget cuts, low percentages of people with serious mental illness served by SMHAs may point to weakness in the reach of a state’s overall system of care.
Congress has some responsibility to help strengthen state mental health care systems. Federal mental health block grants have been reduced or frozen over the past 10 years. The impact of cuts in Medicaid-funded state programs also has been softened only through use of federal stimulus funds.
Election 2010 Series
The state figures are offered as part of NAMI’s fourth alert in an Election 2010 series reminding editors, reporters and others to ask all candidates what they intend to do about the nation's mental health crisis.
"Protecting and strengthening state mental health care must be part of the Election 2010 dialogue. In editorial board meetings and community forums, please ask candidates what they will do to help," Fitzpatrick said.
"Every issue in the election involves mental health care—from unemployment to troops returning from war. For example, unemployed workers are four times more likely to report symptoms of mental illness and veterans are twice as likely as civilians to die from suicide."
The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Research Institute reported in Feb. 2010:
"Weak state mental health care systems end up costing communities more—through lost jobs and careers, broken families, more homelessness, higher insurance costs, more welfare and much more expensive costs for hospital emergency rooms, nursing homes, schools, police and courts, jails and prisons," Fitzpatrick said.
Previous NAMI Election Alerts
|State Name|| # Adults w/SMI
(rounded to 1,000)
|% Adults w/SMI
Served by SMHA
|District of Columbia||23,000||42|
Holzer, III, C.E. and Nguyen, H.T., psy.utmb.edu.
Aron, L., Honberg, R., Duckworth, K., et al., Grading the States 2009: A Report on America's Health Care System for Adults with Serious Mental Illness, (Arlington, VA: National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2009).
Grading the States 2009: A Report on America's Health Care System for Adults with Serious Mental Illness
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1100 state and local affiliates that engage in research, education, support and advocacy. NAMI is a non-partisan, non-profit organization and does not endorse political candidates.