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What Is The Plan To Improve Mental Health Access?

September 3, 2015

“But where were the same overwhelming calls to overhaul the nation’s fragile mental health system?”

The above is a quote from the New Pittsburgh Courier dated August 29th in response to the ongoing debate over mental health access and gun control. Unfortunately this discussion among politicians follows another very tragic crime in Virginia last week. I could not agree more with Lynette Holloway’s question.

Hillcrest has been tracking both declared Republican and Democratic presidential candidate visits to Iowa and the number of times that mental health has been reported either in the media or in our direct observation during those visits to Dubuque. As of the end of August, after three months of tracing, we have 226 days of visits to Iowa and only 19 mentions of mental health. This disparity comes at no surprise to me.

Thanks to the bi-partisan support in Congress for mental health reform. It is about time. But what is happening in states.  We have many high profile governors and senators running for president. At times they speak of mental health, but what is their true advocacy or voting record on mental health. We have high profile non-professional politicians also running for President, but what is their actual plan to improve mental health access once elected?  More people like Sue Ellen Flynn, Dubuque area mental health advocate, need to be turning up at these presidential rallies and asking these questions. It is not enough that they say they are empowering local governments. What was their exact impact or plan on mental health access?

Funding is being limited in the name of efficiencies, which almost always means less access for people needing services and less money for the providers. At the same time extremely large for-profit managed care organizations are allowed to make profits off of these efficiencies, reduced access, and provider financial losses.

You can help by advocating in person or in letters to both the candidates and all politicians. You also can help directly by pledging a donation to help Hillcrest Family Services comprehensive mental health services.

– Gary Gansemer, President/CEO Hillcrest Family Services