Mental Health Treatment: Letter to the Governor
to: Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Connecticut
Dear Governor Malloy,
Thank you for taking a stand this weekend for mental health treatment. According to the Connecticut Post, you received a "rousing ovation" at the U.S. Conference of Mayors for demanding that we remove the stigma from mental health issues, rather than destigmatizing violence as we do in many video games.
"If we spent as much time and energy on destigmatizing mental health treatment as we do in the proliferation of these video games that destigmatize violence, we as a society would make great gains."
Governor, I couldn't agree with you more.
Now it's time to put the money (budget) where your statement is.
Mental Health Treatment Costs Pay Off
On December 14, 2012, I testified at a legislative breakfast in Connecticut. Why? To protest proposed budget cuts to many of the non-profit agencies that provide the kind of treatment Governor Malloy says we so desperately need. What services were in danger of being shut down, in the name of saving money?
- Residential homes that provide rehabilitation, housing, purpose and community for those with mental illness and other disabilities.
- Job training to help those with mental health issues to get back on their feet.
- Counseling and activity programs to get at-risk kids away from violence and gang warfare- and, instead, into productive academic and vocational programs.
- Family services to help educate and support those who are on the front lines of helping loved ones with mental illness.
- ...and the list goes on.
Thankfully, we were heard. Thankfully, the cuts were not as extensive as originally proposed. But cuts they were - and at what cost?
Preventive and Support Services Save Lives, Mental Health - and Money
[caption id="attachment_1289" align="alignright" width="250"] Mental Health Services Prevent Tragedy - and Save Money[/caption]
Take a look at this chart [note: image no longer available]:
The bottom bar represents the yearly coast of mental health support - in this case, supportive housing with ACT (Assertive Community Treatment): $22,500. Above that, a single room occupancy with services, then a Community Residential Facility, then a Jail Cell (where too many with mental illness wind up), and, at the top, State Hospital Cost: $175,000.
That doesn't even begin to cover the emotional cost of trying to live with mental illness - for those diagnosed or for their families. It does not begin to address homelessness, or stigma, or loss.
And it certainly does not factor in the cost of what might happen when a family is left, without support or education, to try to "handle" a loved one alone.
Could the Sandy Hook Tragedy Have Been Prevented with Properly funded Mental Health Services?
We walked out of that legislative breakfast to find that one family had not been able to succeed in "handling" a troubled member alone. That family's name is Lanza. And, without help, they were left to guess if their son was okay.
He was not. Adam Lanza killed his mother, 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and himself that day.
Perhaps, Governor Malloy, this might have unfolded differently. Imagine:
- If Nancy Lanza, Adam's mother, had been shown how to access services to help her legally-adult son function in society, even with his symptoms (still unreleased as of this writing) ...
- If Treatment had been mandated, even after Adam's 18th birthday...
- If Nancy had been educated about her son's condition, taught that a shooting range might not be a good idea, even if it felt like "bonding" to her...
- If Adam had been placed in a residential facility with services and coaching appropriate to his disabilities...
Of course we have no proof, and not enough has been revealed to say for sure - but I can't help but wonder how proper treatment, support and education for the family, and getting professionals involved might have helped.
Maybe stigma held it all back - but perhaps funding played a part too.
So, Governor, I agree with your stand against mental illness stigma, and for gun regulation - but with it must come the funds for preventive and support services that can aid professionals and caregivers in their quest to rebuild the futures that mental health issues can steal - and do it realistically, with knowledge and foresight.
Let's put our money where our goals are. Let's Stand Up for Mental Health - in every way possible - including support for the non-profit agencies, advocates, researchers, workers, and families that, too often, Stand Alone.
Kaye, R. (2013, January 23). Mental Health Treatment: Letter to the Governor, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, April 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalillnessinthefamily/2013/01/mental-health-treatment-letter-to-the-governor