There are half a million homeless people with serious mental illnesses in desperate need of help yet underserved or ignored by our health and social-service systems. That number can seem overwhelming, but for me, it’s all about one person: my son Tim.
Whenever doing the right thing and doing the smart thing coincide, it increases the chances that something will happen. Elsewhere, we have presented data demonstrating that investments in prevention, especially in early childhood, have lifelong positive impact. They also save money. Econometric models by the Washington State Institute of Public Policy estimate that these prevention programs save many more dollars than they cost. They are smart public investments as well as the ‘right’ thing to do.
As Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health wrote in a recent blog, precision medicine is a hot new topic in the research world. The basic idea is simple: Get the “right treatment at the right time to the right person” by addressing the underlying cause of the disorder, not the symptoms. In practice, accomplishing this goal may be a bit more complicated.
By Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO, Mental Health America
The best news sometimes comes when we least expect it. And those of us who have been pushing for years for early identification and intervention in schools for kids with mental health concerns got some unexpectedly good news last month.
By Paul Gionfriddo, Mental Health America President/CEO
I was sitting at home doing some writing two years ago when I turned on the noontime news. There was only a small news item at first – there had been a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in Newtown, and there were at least a couple of confirmed casualties.
It hit home for me, because of my Connecticut roots, and I began to pay close attention. As the next few hours unfolded and the extent of the tragedy became known, I was shocked and horrified by what I learned.
Mental Health America hosted its 2014 Annual Conference in Atlanta last week, and it was a terrific and energizing event. Those who attended know what I’m talking about – the drive, the content, the messaging, the enthusiasm in the room – well, pretty much everything – suggested that in Mental Health America and its affiliates we have some of the most innovative, dedicated, and inspiring mental health advocates in the nation.
Here’s just a sampling of what transpired over the two days:
During my first hundred days at Mental Health America, I have frequently made the case that mental health policymakers and practitioners are too often mired in “Stage 4” thinking when they think about serious mental illnesses.
Here’s what I mean – they use an “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for determining who gets care. That near-death time typically only comes during the latest stages of a chronic disease process, or Stage 4.