Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for October, 2009

Mental Illness and Treatment: Topics That Should Be Center Stage in Health Care Reform Debate

without comments


I don’t think quoting the last paragraph of Glenn Close’s article on Huffington Post detracts from her insightful writing and knowledge of an illness that needs to be brought out of the darkness and into the light if we are going to find a solution together. Here it is in its entirety.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2020 mental illness will be the second leading cause of death and disability. Every society will have to confront the issue. The question is, will we face it with open honesty or silence?

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We have certainly been aware of the magnitude of the mental illness issue for some time now.  When states agreed with human rights organizations and others that the bulk of patients locked up in institutions had no place there and could take their places in society, it was not out of compassion and the understanding that care would still be needed for these individuals outside ivy-covered walls, but rather it was seen as a cost-cutting measure to states’ budgets.

At the same time, insurance companies’ saw that mental health benefits were a back breaker to employer-backed insurance plans. Insurance plans with mental health benefits were almost nonexistent for individuals. Health care for mentally ill individuals  and support for their families became more and more elusive while our prisons often became the place of last resort because treatment options are so finite.

A caregiver at MetroHealth told me recently that a person who should be admitted to the psychiatric unit of the hospital must  have insurance, be rated, or have Medicaid BEFORE admittance.  It is the only area with such a requirement.  So, when a mental illness issue is identified, the person is instructed to come back to the hospital for a rating, and then, they will be admitted. How often do you think that person returns, gets a rating, and is admitted? What if you were the family member that finally convinced the person to seek help? How do you think everyone copes? 

Almost thirty years later, mental health budgets in the state of Ohio have taken direct hits as a budget cost-cutting measure. We as a nation continue to push this real issue back into the darkness as national suicide rates soar. In reality, the violence of mental illness is usually self-inflicted.  Rarely, is it focused outward and seldom do wives”blow away” the  “perp”.

Written by Gloria Ferris

October 21st, 2009 at 4:02 pm