National Alliance on Mental Illness
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About the Issue

America’s Mental Health Care Future

As a nation, the U.S. is the third highest spender on health care per person, yet our health outcomes rank 37th compared to other nations. We can do better. Even though the economy is in dire condition, our nation will recover. Our nation’s health care system is undergoing a complete overhaul to prepare for better times ahead. A uniquely American approach based on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Parity Act) will bring the insurance industry into line and strengthen public/private partnerships. However, NAMI’s advocacy is needed to prevent harmful consequences and ensure the right care at the right time and in the right place to give every child and adult living with mental illness the chance to succeed in the family, school, workplace and community.

Budget Advocacy

Budget cuts today are dismantling state mental health care systems at levels never faced before. NAMI's top advocacy priority is to protect and strengthen state and local public mental health services. (more)

The High Costs of Cutting Mental Health

The costs of cutting the state mental health budgets are high. The lives of the one in four Americans who experiences a mental illness at some point is at stake. Treatment works -- if you can get it.

Without treatment, more people will end up hospitalized, in shelters, on the street, in jail or dead. These are costs that are too high to pay.

Our fact sheets illustrate the impact of an inadequate mental health system on our communities . We can't afford to neglect our investment. Advocates are encouraged to print and use these in their efforts with elected public policy makers, the media and others.

Policy Webinars & Presentations

Managed Care, Medicaid and Mental Health

Mental Health Block Grant

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed two policy framework documents to provide guidance to state mental health authorities and community stakeholders regarding allocation of Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG) and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant (SAPT) funding.

  • One in four adults experiences a mental disorder in any given year. One in seventeen adults has a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • One in 10 children has a mental health condition that causes significant impairment.
  • Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, three-quarters by age 24.
  • Despite effective treatment, there are long delays--an average of 10 years--from the onset of mental illness to treatment.
  • Racial and ethnic communities are less likely to receive needed mental health care and, when they do receive treatment, more likely to receive poorer quality of care.
  • Mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44.
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for America's youth ages 15-24.
  • Overall, we lose one life to suicide every 15.8 minutes. The vast majority have an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness.
  • About 20 - 25 percent of jail and prison inmates and youth involved with juvenile justice have a serious mental illness.
  • Twenty-six percent of homeless persons have a severe mental illness--over four times the rate of the general population.
  • An estimated 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. 45 percent of these veterans live with mental illness.
  • For people living with serious mental illnesses, life expectancy is 25 years less than that of other Americans.
  • People with schizophrenia die from heart disease, diabetes and other medical causes at a rate two or three times greater than the rest of the population.

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