National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI's Recommendations for States and the Federal Government

1. Increase Public Funding for Mental Health Care Services

Where We're Failing

Adequate funding for mental health has long been a low priority for states:

  • Although Medicaid spending has increased, non-Medicaid state spending has not kept pace.
  • Growth in state mental health spending is slower than total growth in state government expenditures.
  • As the national economic crisis worsens, many states are making-or considering-even greater cuts to mental health services.

Taking Action

During difficult economic times, wise choices on spending must be made. Cuts to state mental health services are unwise because they inevitably lead to greater costs in other areas. States truly committed to investing in recovery should increase funding of public mental health services, while making sure that these funds are spent wisely on services that work.

In addition to state general funds, states across the country are finding creative and successful ways to generate new revenues or reconfigure existing resources to increase funding for mental health services.

Institute Modest Tax Increases

  • California's Mental Health Services Act authorizes the state to levy a one percent tax on annual personal income exceeding $1 million. Funds are used to develop and implement innovative mental health services in the community.
  • Counties in Washington are authorized to impose a sales tax add-on of one-tenth of one percent to fund new mental health, chemical dependency, or therapeutic court services at the local level.
  • States such as Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina, among others, are considering increases in taxes on cigarettes or alcohol (i.e., "sin taxes"). Revenues could be targeted to mental health funding, including smoking cessation programs and other similar interventions.

Reallocate Resources

  • Connecticut and Florida reinvest dollars from their criminal justice systems into community based services, housing for ex-offenders (including those with serious mental illnesses), jail diversion, and mental health services.
  • Kentucky finances an innovative jail mental health triage program through revenues generated from court costs and fees.

Establish Dedicated Trusts

  • Alaska established a trust in perpetuity to fund systems improvement and innovative programs for people with mental illnesses. The trust is financed through one million acres of land managed by the state to generate income to help pay for a comprehensive, integrated mental health program.
  • Oregon created a housing trust fund for people with mental illnesses through revenues generated from the sale of a state hospital.

Continue to recommendation 2: Improve data collection, outcomes measurement, and accountability  >>

"Recovery is a unique process for each person. It means having a better quality of life, hope, and resiliency."