Forget About Improving Mental Health: Treat Serious Mental Illness
1. Target the sickest: those who need help the most, rather than the least.
2. Increase the number psychiatric hospital beds by ending the IMD [institutions for mental diseases] exclusion in Medicaid and 190 day cap in Medicare.
3. Ensure easy access to doctors and medications for the seriously ill.
4. Re-evaluate direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising to end medicalizing normality.
5. Reform HIPAA and FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] so families can get info they need to help ill relatives.
6. Implement civil commitment reform so people can be treated before they become ‘danger to self or others’ rather than being forced to wait until after.
7. Enact and implement AOT (assisted outpatient treatment) programs to create a less expensive, less restrictive, more humane alternative to inpatient commitment and incarceration.
8. Reform PAIMII (protection and advocacy program) so it helps the seriously ill get into treatment rather than out of treatment.
9. Increase the number of mental health courts
10. Listen to criminal justice experts instead of mental health industry as they have more experience with the seriously ill.
11. Focus research on the most serious mental illnesses.
12. Fund what does work: assertive community treatment; supported housing; clubhouses.
13. Stop funding what doesn’t work: suicide and stigma advertising; programs that claim they prevent mental illness; peer support.
14. Eliminate SAMHSA to end public funding of antipsychiatry and non-evidenced based practices.
Mr. Jaffe is the founder of Mental Illness Policy Org, (http://mentalillnesspolicy.org) which provides media and public officials with unbiased information about “serious” mental illness from a pro-treatment perspective: @MentalIllPolicy.