This distressing article, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/10/us/10juvenile.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all by Solomon Moore in today's New York Times shows us how the mental health system in most of the country is failing teenagers. Kids who need medication, psychotherapy, and structure act out until they end up in detention, often physically and sexually abused by both fellow inmates and staff, with little or no treatment. I worked with one of these guys in a day treatment program. The PTSD was the worst part of his disorder. With what little we knew about trauma at the time, we got him through it, and out of the system.
In 1983, I saw Ronald's Reagan's gutting of the community mental health system gut treatment for mentally ill adults. I ran a day treatment program that actually worked. We got most of our clients, except the most psychotic, main-streamed into jobs and schools. When Reagan cut the funding medicaid funding, our program closed, and many of our clients who had been maintained on 3 hours of group, 3 times a week, had no where to go. Some lost their housing. Some lost their lives.
If we truly get health care for all and it includes mental health care for all, this may change. I hope so for the lives of all the sick and mentally ill people in our still wealthy country.
I hope things do change so that evidence-based community treatment becomes available to all who need it. I’m not holding my breath though. As long as it continues to be a “crime” to have a mental illness, unfortunatley the menatlly ill will end up where criminals do.