There is a stigma concerning people individuals suffering from mental illness and consequently the problem is often ignored. Congressman Tim Murphy summed up the circumstances for the mentally ill in this manner: “We have replaced the hospital bed with the jail cell, the homeless shelter and the coffin.” He wonders aloud how such circumstances could be considered compassionate.
States have cut services that were aimed at assisting these individuals. From 2009 until 2012 mental health services have been cut $5 billion by state governments. Close to 10 percent of psychiatric hospital beds have been cut during this same period. Unless these individuals have families that can take them in, many do not receive any care whatsoever.
It is estimated that 40 percent of adults with severe mental illness are not provided with any treatment. When taking into account all mental illness, as many as 60 percent are left untreated. The costs of ignoring this problem have to be enormous.
Of those receiving disability payments from the federal government, 44 percent are suffering from a serious mental illness. A significant number of mentally ill people are unable to work. Mental illness costs more time in terms of healthy living than any other disabling disease.
We need to provide the resources necessary for these individuals to get the help that they need. As Chicago attorneys representing disabled individuals, we understand the importance of getting a medical diagnosis for these individuals so that they can receive this assistance. The medical records in turn can be used as evidence of a disability so that applications for Social Security disability can be approved.
Mental illness is not a problem that we can ignore.
Source: Detroit Free Press, “Mental illness: The cost of not caring,” Liz Szabo, May 13, 2014