National Alliance on Mental Illness
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April 5, 2005

New Coalition Releases Report, Calls for Action to Reduce Cost of Untreated Mental Illness -- While Improving Care

NAMI Ohio Joins With Government Officials, Law Enforcement, Physicians, Educators in Presenting Cost-Effective Action Plan and Launching State-Wide "Campaign for the Mind of America"

APRIL 5, Columbus, OH – At a Capitol press conference, NAMI Ohio and partners from Ohio’s law enforcement, medical, education and social service communities released a new reportTo Lift The Burden, recommending a five-point cost-effective plan for reducing the financial and moral costs of untreated mental illness to individuals, families, and taxpayers

More than half a million Ohioans are affected by potentially disabling mental illnesses every year. The full report is on-line at

"As Ohio's leaders work to balance the budget, they may be tempted to slash spending on mental health care, but that would be a huge mistake," said Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelley. "I see the long term costs of insufficient mental health care services every day. People with mental illness being shunted to the courts, the juvenile justice system, jail and prison. When you add in the toll on families, schools, and emergency medical care, the long term costs of cutting mental health far outweigh any short term 'savings.'"

"Ohio is facing an acute financial crisis, but people living with serious mental illness must have access to services and treatment," said Terry Russell, Executive Director, NAMI Ohio—the Ohio chapter of NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill).

"In To Lift The Burden, we lay out a clear, affordable plan based on proven treatments and the experiences of other states that will meet the needs of some of Ohio’s most vulnerable people."

The press conference also marked the state launch of the "Campaign for the Mind of America," a multi-year national and state-level initiative to increase access to mental health treatment and services and show the effects of untreated mental illness on every community.

Untreated mental illness costs the nation more than $100 billion annually in lost productivity. Major additional costs also are shifted on to other sectors of society, such as law enforcement, education, and emergency rooms---making them unfairly and inefficiently the front lines of mental health treatment.

To Lift The Burden: Executive Summary

Reducing the Costs of Untreated Mental Illness in Ohio While Improving Care

With almost two and a half million Ohioans suffering a mental disorder in any given year, mental illness touches almost every family in the state. The direct and indirect costs to Ohio of mental illness total more than $6.5 billion a year. State and county governments are forced to pay millions of dollars each year in emergency medical care, education interventions, long-term nursing home care, unemployment, housing, and law enforcement, including juvenile justice, jail and prison costs. Everyone is affected.

And yet, mental illness is a challenge that can be met. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and experts in the field are promoting proven interventions that promote recovery for people with serious mental illness-- including the implementation of evidence-based practices (EBPs).

Despite advances, nearly 50% of all people with a serious mental illness do not get the treatment they need. In Ohio and other states inadequate health insurance coverage, stigma, financial disincentives to treatment and lack of qualified mental health professionals prevent people from getting the help they need.

To close these gaps and decrease the costs of untreated mental illness, NAMI Ohio and the Campaign for the Mind of America recommend:

  • Mental health parity: Ohio must join 35 other states and pass a mental health parity law to end the discrimination in insurance coverage for the treatment of mental illnesses.
  • Access to Medications: Doctors must continue to be allowed to utilize the latest breakthroughs in medical science to treat the most severely mentally disabled without bureaucratic restrictions to the access of life-saving medications.
  • Investment in Core Services: Ohio must fulfill its promise to its most vulnerable citizens and fully fund the community mental health care system in this state. The legislature should support the Governor’s mental health budget recommendations.
  • Housing: Safe and affordable housing options are essential to ensure that recovery from a serious mental illness is attainable.
  • Child Custody: Parents and caregivers of children living with mental illness must not be forced to relinquish custody of their children to the state of Ohio in order to secure treatment and services.
  • Employment: Every Ohioan must have the opportunity to fully participate in their community and should be supported and encouraged to find and maintain employment.

In a time of tough choices, this report offers economically sound solutions to protect services for the state’s most vulnerable citizens. In particular, Ohio should learn from other states facing similar budget pressures that have developed innovative programs to care for people with mental illness.

Read the full report (PDF, 106kb)

More about Campaign for the Mind of America in Ohio