National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Matters of Fact - Washington
April 2005

Key facts and core statistics about the impact of untreated mental illness on the state of Washington

Over 450,000 of Washington State's 4.4 million adult residents have a severe mental illness. An estimated 80,000 Washington Children and Adolescents have a severe emotional disturbance. (U.S. Census 2000; U.S. Center for Mental Health Services; Washington Mental Health Block Grant Report (2003)

In Washington, 89% of all public funds used to treat mental illness come from Medicaid, a federal-state partnership. Washington's reliance on Medicaid far exceeds that of other states that average only around 50-55% Medicaid funds. While Medicaid funding increased for mental health services since 1993 in Washington, state-only funding for these services actually declined. (Center for Mental Health Services; Tim Yowell, Washington Senate Ways and Means Committee Staff)

The Washington State Mental Health Division serves 2.1% of Washington citizens on an annual basis. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 10.6% of Washington State adults have a serious mental illness. (Washington State FY 2003 Mental Health Block Grant Report; U.S. Center for Mental Health Services)

Corrections officers in Washington jails conservatively estimate that 19 percent of inmates suffer from mental illness, four or five times higher than rates of mental illness among the general population. Experts agree that these estimates are routinely low as correctional facilities do not have the capacity for assessment and diagnosis. (Corrections Compendium, September/October, 1994)

Approximately 6,300 persons with a mental illness are homeless at any give time in the state of Washington. (Housing for Homeless People with Mental Illness and Co-occurring Disorders, September 2003)

It is estimated that each inmate costs the state on average $20,100 per year. It costs the state over $7,000 per month per child for juvenile detention. It is estimated that costs for the care of children with mental illness would be reduced by 40% through integrated care approaches. (President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003)

Family education programs, such as NAMI Washington's Family to Family program, reduce patient relapses by more than 50% and are cited as one of the two non-medication approaches most likely to succeed. NAMI Washington graduates an estimated 400 individuals annually in Family to Family. (PORT report, National Institute of Mental Health, 1995; NAMI Washington)

A significant majority of emergency physicians report (including respondents from Washington State) that the upsurge in people with mental illness seeking treatment in community emergency departments is negatively affecting patient care, causing longer wait times, and affecting everyone’s access to lifesaving treatment. Two-thirds of these physicians attribute the recent escalation to state health care budget cutbacks and the decreasing number of psychiatric beds for people living with mental illness who are in crisis. (American College of Emergency Physicians, national survey, April 2004)

Additional Facts Of Importance

For every $1 spent on mental health services, $5 is saved in overall healthcare costs. (American Psychological Association)

Crisis Intervention Teams, a law enforcement model designed to safely manage interactions between peace officers and persons living with a severe mental illness, have reduced officer related injuries by 85% since the programs inception in Memphis, TN. (Memphis Police Department)

The state of California documented saving $2 in hospital and jail costs for every $1 spent on mental health services. (NAMI California)

In Oklahoma, investment in evidence based practices such as the Program for Assertive Community Treatment saves money and contributes to recovery. Recent data suggests that PACT reduced hospitalization by 90% and transitions many participants with serious and persistent mental illness into independent housing. (Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services)

More on the Campaign for the Mind of America in Washington