November 7, 2003
People living with mental illness in America are paying a high price for the failures of our mental health system and the policies that govern it. TRIAD, NAMI’s Treatment/Recovery Information and Advocacy Database, released data in its first report titled Shattered Lives compiled from interviews with 3400 individuals living with serious mental illnesses in all 50 states.
This landmark national survey revealed the failing outcomes and failing hope for people receiving services from America’s current mental health system. Statistics show that 86% are in the prime of life, between 18 and 54, but two-thirds are unemployed and 55% live on an annual income below $10,000. Nearly half were hospitalized last year; 40% had crisis emergency care; and 44% were detained or arrested by police.
As when one turns from looking in the eyes of a distressed and homeless person in the street, so America has acted as though the priceless lives of nearly 18 million adults and 8.1 million young Americans are to be ignored.
"It's time to hold the public mental health system accountable," said Richard C. Birkel, Ph.D., executive director of NAMI, The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness. "TRIAD was launched to monitor this system in crisis and hold policy-makers and providers, underwritten by our tax dollars, accountable. Shattered Lives is an appalling baseline describing a failed system—and far worse—shamefully wasted American lives."
NAMI is not alone in its assessment of a failed mental health treatment system. Michael Hogan, Ph.D., chair of President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health reported after the past year’s arduous study, "Today’s mental health care system is a patchwork relic—the result of disjointed reforms and policies. …The commission recommends a fundamental transformation of the nation’s approach to mental health care."
Community leaders from education, law enforcement, business and overall healthcare are uniting in NAMI’s Campaign for the Mind of America. Monday, November 10th the new partners initiative in the Campaign was launched from the national press club in Washington, D.C.
"NAMI’s Campaign for the Mind of America—and TRIAD is a part of that—is uniting citizens who are outraged at the public neglect, discrimination and abuse persons with serious mental illnesses endure," said Birkel. "How are we going to confront this crisis in our communities? It must be together—with courage and dignity and determination."
Key to empowering NAMI’s Campaign for the Mind of America is The Mind of America Foundation. This working body of dedicated prominent citizens have formed a public/private partnership committed to bring the facts about mental illness and recovery to a wider public in order to eradicate stigma, improve access to scientific treatment and supports and transform the mental healthcare system in America.
To support the Mind of America Foundation and its Campaign for the Mind of America, make a secure online donation now. Your comments are also welcomed and encouraged.