No. of Recommendations: 6
GH: I am soooo surprised, 'telegraph' somehow, accidentally managed to get his facts wrong.

Actually, there are many ways of ranking the mental health systems of the states. Depending on what you focus on, they give very different results. Tele claimed that Connecticut has the weakest mental health laws, but NAMI (which you quoted) was referring to public funding for mental health. To me those sound like different things.

My state, Colorado, got a grade of "C" from NAMI, despite its truly dismal record. Either they whitewashed Colorado, or somebody fed the researchers some bad data for the study.

One measure which I think really gets at the heart of the problem is public inpatient capacity relative to demand. Because it is calculated relative to demand, it does not discriminate against states with generally good levels of mental health. It counts beds, not dollars, which is one way of adjusting for differing costs of care. Using this measure, Colorado ranks dead last. I don't know where Connecticut ranks.

When folks are seriously mentally ill, they typically exhaust their families' resources and patience in just a few years. After that there are only four choices: (a) chain them down in an attic, as was done in previous centuries, (b) throw them in prison and let the guards administer "therapy", (c) let them beg for food and live on the streets, or (d) pay for their care in public institutions with tax money.

Here in Colorado, 14 people are turned away from the mental health system for every one treated with public funds. The 14 quickly end up on the streets, and from there they migrate into our prisons and jails -- and that is one reason why Colorado's incarceration rate is so high.

Personally, I favor a system of half-way houses, distinct from addiction recovery homes, which are important but very different. Such a system would build upon each state's existing slender resources in this area. I suspect that when all the costs are fully audited and accounted for, this solution will prove to deliver the best net discounted benefit per public tax dollar expended. Since many of our Colorado homeless are military veterans with serious mental issues, I would also expect the federal VA to make a large annual contribution to the system.

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