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Life in the Big Easy

By       Message Kenneth Briggs     Permalink
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Life in the Big Easy isn't easy at all these days. More than Sixteen months ago, Hurricane Katrina tore New Orleans apart. The hidden damage is now emerging. It can be seen in reports of strokes, suicides and stress related deaths. The people staffing the public health clinics see that the city is facing an unprecedented mental health crisis and that the city has no way to deal with it.[1].

Not every one sees it the same way. NAMI, The National Alliance on Mental Health, which has a state organization in every state and over 1.000 local affiliates, in a recent "Report on America's Health Care System for Serious Mental Illness" while giving Louisiana a grade of D- has said under the heading "Recent Inovations" that there has been a "Heroic response of individual providers and Office of Mental Health staff on the ground in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita". Louisiana's grade of D- in the report "Grading the States 2006" compares to the National grade of D.[2].

In the report, under the heading Urgent Needs, NAMI specifies "Restoration of Office of Mental Health's budget after recent state cuts." and "Increased focus on developing and funding a community-based system." Within the overall grade of D-, NAMI gave the following Category Grades:Infrastructure-D; Information Access-F; Services-D-; Recovery Supports-D-. NAMI further states: Per Capita Mental Health Spending-$51.34 [National Rank-41]; Per Capita Income-$24,780 [National Rank-44]; Total Mental Health Spending-$230 million [National Rank-28]; Suicide National Rank-31.

After thinking about all of this information from NAMI, I could only conclude that Louisiana is not spending it's monetary resources wisely. For the amount of money spent it's grades should be much higher. NAMI DOES NOT NECESSARILY AGREE WITH ME, but does point out that Louisiana's resources flow to inpatient services at the expense of community services. While 97% of the clients are served in the community, 60% of the budget and 72% of the staff go to inpatient settings.

In conclusion, I agree with NAMI that now is the time for the state of Louisiana to meet the crisis in mental health care by seizing this moment to build a better system.

[1]New Orleans feels pain of mental health crisis: USA Today, 01/15/07
[2]NAMI: Grading the States 2006, A Report on America's Health Care System for Serious Mental llness, 01/17/07

 

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An OEN Editor. Born-03/20/1934, BA Pol. Sci.-U of Washington-1956, MBA-Seattle U-1970, Boeing-Program Control-1957-1971, State of Oregon-Mental Health Division-Deputy Admistrator-1971-1979, llinois Association of Community MH (more...)
 

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