National Alliance on Mental Illness
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New Report Card
MENTAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM GETS A “D” GRADE
State Budget Crises Threaten Hopes for Progress
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has released its new Grading the States report, assessing the nation's public mental health care system for adults.
The national average grade is D. Fourteen states improved their grades since the last report card three years ago. Twelve states fell backwards.
Oklahoma showed the greatest improvement in the nation, rising from a D to a B. South Carolina fell the farthest, from a B to a D.
The grades include six Bs, 18 Cs, 21 Ds and six Fs, based on 65 specific criteria such as access to medicine, housing, family education, and support for National Guard members. (There were no As). A state-by-state chart, including comparison to the original 2006 grades, is available on a special Web site, along with the full report and other features.
The report comes at a time when state budget cuts are threatening mental health care overall.
"Mental health care in America is in crisis," said NAMI executive director Michael J. Fitzpatrick at a press conference in Washington, D.C. that released the report. "Even states that have worked hard to build life-saving, recovery-oriented systems of care stand to see their progress wiped out."
"Ironically, state budget cuts occur during a time of economic crisis when mental heath services are needed even more urgently than before. It is a vicious cycle that can lead to ruin. States need to move forward, not retreat."
"Too many people living with mental illness end up hospitalized, on the street, in jail or dead," Fitzpatrick said. "We need governors and legislators willing to make investments in change."
NAMI state organizations also held press conferences in state capitals and special satellite feeds caused hundreds of television stations nationwide to cover the story. Audio and video news releases are available on-line, as well as extended “B-roll” interview segments.
Television interviews included NAMI board president Anand Pandya, M.D., NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth, M.D., and NAMI advocate Lisa Halpern, who lives with schizophrenia and is director of recovery services for Vinfen Corporation.