NAMI Lobby Day 2020
1. Protect and Increase Access to Quality Mental Health Services
An ideal state mental health system should be comprehensive, built on solid scientific evidence that is focused on wellness and recovery. It should be inclusive, reaching underserved areas and neglected communities, and fully integrated into the broader health care system. Research has shown that timely treatment produces better outcomes and quicker recovery for individuals with mental illness. Delays in treatment can increase the severity of mental illness and consequently the intensity and cost of the services being provided. Seamless care coordination can prevent suicides, homelessness, loss of job earnings, and incarceration.
2. Decriminalize Behavioral Health Conditions
In a mental health crisis, people are more likely to encounter police than get medical help. As a result, 2 million people with mental illness are booked into jails each year. Nearly 15% of men and 30% of women booked into jails have a serious mental health condition. Having a behavioral health condition is not a crime, it should be treated and viewed as what it is – a disease. People living with mental illness, chemical dependency, or both (a co-occurring disorder) do not belong in our criminal justice or corrections system – but in treatment and recovery programs.
3. Prioritize Prevention and Early Intervention
Mental illness affects young people at an alarming rate. One half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75 percent begin by age 24. What’s even more astounding is that even after an onset of symptoms, the average young person does not get treatment until eight to 10 years later. Research shows that early identification and intervention leads to better outcomes, may lessen long-term disability, and reduce costs associated with crisis treatment services, as well as avoiding years of unnecessary suffering. Family members are a central resource in the treatment of children and adults living with serious mental illnesses and should be an integral part of the treatment team and empowered to facilitate mutually agreed upon treatment team goals. Research overwhelmingly shows that when families take an active part in treatment decisions, consumer outcomes are better.
4. Ensure the Finacial Stabilitiy of a Quality Mental Health Care System
Washington State lacks the revenue to adequately fund its most basic services. This is because we have the most unfair and unstable revenue system in the nation. Lack of revenue combined with the recession has resulted in $12 billion in cuts and chronic underfunding for our important social service safety net programs.