I was glad to see the editorial in the Arizona Daily Star this morning;Tucson’s MentalHealth System Needs Shoring Up.
Local pyschiatric beds are commonly filled, but I wasn’t aware that psychiatric beds in our prison system are also filled. Hummmmmm, I wonder what’s going on? Is it possible that we’re starting to see the results of continued budget slashes to mental health care in our state? Or, is it because more people are becoming mentally ill? I think it’s the former.
Let’s look at some statistics. One in four families are effected by mental illness in a given year and at least 10% of the population lives with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder. If Tucson’s population is one million, then that’s 100,000 people right here in the Old Pueblo. Some are being successfully treated and some are not. Many are in denial about their illnesses and don’t know about the high success rates of treatment – sometimes as high as 90% do achieve mental health recovery. But, not without proper treatment that can include medication, therapy and a strong support system.
Last time I checked there weren’t that many psychiatric beds in Tucson. Even with the new psychiatric crisis hospital opening soon there won’t be new beds as it will only replace the currently existing beds at UPH. Without more funding I don’t see any growth for new tratment facilites, but unfortuanately I do see growth in the prison facilities. It seems like that’s one of the few areas of growth in our state. Some legislators in Phoenix have stated that it’s time for families and loved ones to “step up” and take care of those struggling with menta illness. I wish it were that simple.
But, I’m glad to see that the Arizona Daily Star is initiating this dialogue. Hopefully some inovative solutions will come about…….and they won’t cost anything!