Liz Szabo of USA Today continues with her excellent series of articles profiling America’s failing mental health system. This is a worthy read!
Stigma against the mentally ill is so powerful that it’s been codified for 50 years into federal law, and few outside the mental health system even realize it.
This systemic discrimination, embedded in Medicaid and Medicare laws, has accelerated the emptying of state psychiatric hospitals, leaving many of the sickest and most vulnerable patients with nowhere to turn.
Advocates and experts who spoke with USA TODAY describe a system in shambles, starved of funding while neglecting millions of people across the country each year.
The failure to provide treatment and supportive services to people with mental illness – both in the community and in hospitals – has overburdened emergency rooms, crowded state and local jails and left untreated patients to fend for themselves on city streets, says Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island who has fought to provide better care for the mentally ill.
The USA routinely fails to provide the most basic services for people with mental illness — something the country would never tolerate for patients with cancer or other physical disorders, Kennedy says.