Mental Health Agencies Asleep At The Wheel

I did not have a good experience with a community mental health center because the one I was involved with for 3 1/2 years was ill-equipped to help a young person like me that had so much potential for what she could do in life.

After I came out of the hospital, I was shunted into “transitional” programs that led to dependence and disability instead. I fought to be taken seriously in my goal of obtaining a full-time job and living independently.

It’s why I’m not a fan of most community mental health centers.

And Rep. Tim Murphy released a report slamming SAMSHA, the government agency, for not doing anything to help individuals with serious mental illnesses. The funds given SAMSHA couldn’t be accounted for. There was no proof that anything SAMSHA does helps those of us with severe symptoms.

In reality, staff at SAMSHA are against treating people with medication. Its funding goes to agencies that advocate for people to refuse the treatment that can help these individuals be in remission.

Here’s the results from the Treatment Advocacy Center press release:

“The GAO (government General Accounting Office) identified 112 programs spread across eight federal agencies with combined budgets of $5.7 billion in 2013 that might support individuals with serious mental illness but only 30 targeted specifically for this population.

• Of the 30 targeted programs, fewer than half had been evaluated or were scheduled to be evaluated. As an example, a multi-agency committee established to improve coordination for such programs has not met since 2009.

• Few agencies were found to be tracking or evaluating their programs for serious mental illness, and many were unable to say how much money was actually being spent for the target population or if individuals were actually participating in such programs.

‘This is a stunning independent validation of what we been saying for years: The people who need help the most are being neglected by the federal agency responsible for ensuring they get help,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. The GAO found that of the 30 programs specifically targeted for individuals with a severe mental illness, most of those were in agencies like the Veterans Administration and Department of Justice, whose missions don’t include mental health.

The report was prepared in response to a bipartisan request from subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO). Subcommittee members heard testimony at a series of hearings exposing a systematic pattern of focusing federal dollars elsewhere than on those with the profound psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder. This population, estimated at 10 million by the GAO to include individuals with severe depression, is at significantly greater risk for homelessness, arrest and incarceration, suicide, homicide and a number of other negative results when they do not receive treatment.

‘The Oversight subcommittee wanted to know whether the needs of society’s most vulnerable citizens were being addressed by the federal agencies charged with meeting those needs, especially SAMHSA,’ said Fuller. ‘The GAO found they are not.'”

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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