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National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Emergency Departments See Dramatic Rise in People with Mental Illness

In light of the effects that state budget cutbacks to Medicaid will have on funding for treatment and services for people with mental illness, NAMI, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) have joined forces with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) to raise awareness of the damaging consequences of such funding cuts.

Release of this report demonstrates the "unintended consequences" of limited access to mental health treatment. This outcome is a core message of the NAMI Campaign for the Mind of America.

Below are links to the press release and survey findings.

The survey of 340 emergency department physicians, highlights the perceived reasons for increased ER visits from people in psychiatric distress, consequences on the quality of care due to increased utilization, and perceived reasons for the sudden increase.

The key finding is that more than 60 percent of emergency department physicians report seeing an increase in patients presenting with psychiatric emergencies in the past 6 to 12 months.

How can NAMI state organizations and affiliates use this report?

On April 27, 2004, the report is scheduled to release nationally through a written press release. Additionally, several key markets were selected to receive a "video news release" (VNR). A VNR is a prepackaged media story provided to television newsrooms. The release included statements by leaders of the four organizations involved in the survey. NAMI leaders should consider contacting local media to promote the survey. Leaders can also identify local emergency room physicians to develop a localized angle on this story, including earned media opportunities, op-eds, editorial boards, and letters to the editor.

As a campaign partner, ACEP is prepared to work with NAMI leaders to underscore the importance of providing accessible mental health care. A partnership with ACEP will possibly add strength to almost any initiative underway in your state. To locate an ACEP chapter near you, visit the following link: http://www.acep.org/1,37,0.html.

For more information on this report or other activities related to NAMI’s Campaign for the Mind of America, contact Joel Miller or Katrina Gay at 703/524-7600.

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