America’s mental health system needs overhauling

America’s mental health system needs overhauling

Mental disorders have become a bigger health concern than expected. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in six adults in the United States live with a mental illness. The rate of the availability of inpatient psychiatric-treatment beds in the U.S. fell by about 97 percent during 1955-2016. Further, there has been a 77.4 percent reduction in the number of beds for both inpatient and 24-hour residential treatment from 1970 to 2014. While the numbers are concerning, they also expose the need for more and better mental health facilities.

The unavailability of inpatient treatment beds is forcing patients to wait, thereby increasing the risk of suffering from other complications. On the other hand, the loved ones too cannot escape the nightmare as they are forced to watch the deteriorating condition of the helpless victims due to lack of proper treatment, facilities and care.

With no other viable solution in sight, those in need are forced to stay in homeless shelters, emergency rooms and prisons. The situation is so bad that the country’s largest mental health facilities are currently in the prisons of Cook County and Los Angeles County. In fact, according to a startling statistic, prisons have 10 times more patients with some mental illness (SMI) compared to state mental health rehab centers.

Repeal of IMD exclusion needed

It is known that individuals dealing with mental disorders need proper care and treatment. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the availability of the best possible treatment options and the much-needed treatment beds. The first step that can be taken to make this possible is to repeal the discriminatory Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion in Medicaid. According to this stature, law prohibits Medicaid payments to those who have not yet attained the age of 65 years and are patients in some institute for a mental illness. This implies that there is no support available for adults dealing with mental disorders or substance abuse problems. Moreover, there would be no medical reimbursements for patients admitted in facilities with more than 16 beds.

Such policies shift the entire burden of treating a mental health patient on the state. According to a federal study, mental disorders were the top two reasons for admissions of patients with Medicaid coverage. Moreover, the savings that are expected from restricting inpatient care were illusionary as mental illnesses, combined with diabetes, cost nearly $840 million in a single year. This was because the readmission rate in hospitals that offer shorter stays was higher than those seen in hospitals offering longer stays.

Dealing with mental illnesses

At this juncture, it is important for both the state and federal governments to work together to help Americans achieve a sound mental health. Recovery from mental illnesses is possible if one seeks timely help from an experienced medical professional. It is important to consistently follow the treatment plan devised for a complete recovery. The treatment program might ask one to join a mental health rehab center so that the individual can receive proper care and treatment.

If you or someone you know is dealing with any form of mental illness and is looking for the best inpatient mental health treatment centers, the 247 Mental Health Helpline can help. Call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 653-8178 or chat online with our experts to know about the best treatment facilities near you. One should not shy away from seeking treatment due to associated stigma and fear of backlash.