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Mental health care in U.S. rated as poor in state-by-state report


Published: Tue, March 7, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


Ohio got a B, Pennsylvania a D-plus on their mental health care systems.
WASHINGTON -- The United States gets a D grade in helping adults with serious mental illnesses, according to the first state-by-state report on the nation's mental health-care system in more than 15 years.
Ohio and Connecticut received a B, and Maine, South Carolina, Wisconsin a B-minus, says the study, "Grading the States: A Report on America's Health Care System for Serious Mental Illnesses."
The 230-page report, which includes individual state narratives and scoring tables, was funded by the Stanley Family Foundation and sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The report calls on states to make smarter investment choices through proven, cost-effective practices and to link taxpayer funding to performance and individual outcomes.
"Grades are more than report cards," said NAMI executive director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "They reflect standards that help people recover and choices being made by governors and legislatures every day. States doing well in the report have developed a common vision and political will to move their treatment systems forward."
Some results
Five states received grades in the B range -- Ohio, Connecticut, Maine, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Eight states received F's -- Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Pennsylvania's grade was a D-plus.
"Treatment works, if you can get it, and if states get it right," said Ken Duckworth, the NAMI medical director. Millions of adults with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression depend primarily on state public health systems for treatment and support services, he added.
Besides being the only large, populous state to receive an F grade, Illinois ranked 46th in the nation in a Consumer and Family Test Drive of information accessibility conducted through the state mental health agency's Web site and telephone system.
States that received excellent test drive scores were Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, South Carolina, Michigan and West Virginia.
Fitzpatrick predicted the report will have policy consequences, as consumer and family advocates will use it as a tool for change. Governors and legislators should use it as a check list. The impact may extend to national debate, he added.
The NAMI report makes these recommendations for states:
UInvest in proven, cost-effective, evidence-based practices.
UIncrease funding tied to performance and recovery.
UImprove data collection.
UIncrease access to information.
UInvolve consumers and families at all levels.
UEliminate discrimination.


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