TUESDAY, MARCH 23, 2004
CONTACT: Katrina Gay
ADVOCATES GATHER IN PORTLAND EQUIPPED WITH
NATIONAL STUDY OF THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM IN MAINE
NAMI Maine launches Campaign for the Mind of America Calling for Access to a System in Maine Medicaid that Supports Recovery and Economics
March 23, 2004, Portland, Maine—NAMI Maine and over 15 organizations released The State of the Mental Health System in Maine in the state’s largest city today, as part of a national campaign to build community support for access to services and treatment for people with mental illness.
Nearly 35 thousand of Maine’s over 1.3 million residents has a severe mental illness, yet most do not receive treatment.
"Every day, I see evidence of our neglect of people with mental illness—people who need housing, medications, and employment, not incarceration.," said Sheriff Dion of the Maine Sheriff’s Association.
Advocates and experts will present report findings to legislators and other policymakers on the scope of the mental health crisis in Maine, and recommend solutions that are evidence-based, cost-effective, and safe.
The report chronicles the results of an ineffective, insufficient mental health services and foreshadows the consequences that would result if Governor Baldacci’s plans to restrict access for Maine’s citizens even further are implemented.
The report serves to launch the Campaign for the Mind of America in Maine, promoting smart choices with the broadest benefits—the greater awareness of the cost of untreated mental illness.
Nationwide, untreated mental illness costs the nation more than $100 billion annually from lost productivity and diverted resources. The Campaign is creating unique partnerships among different sectors on the front lines that deal with the crisis. In Maine, those joining include the Police Chief’s Association, the Sheriff’s Association, the Education Association, the American College of Emergency Room Physicians, and others.
"While cutting mental health services and treatments may result in short term budget savings, the long term impact of untreated mental disorders is much greater both in terms of cost and in human suffering," said Ken Duckworth, M.D., Medical Director of NAMI and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
"Community leaders such as you emergency room doctors, your law enforcement officers, and your teachers know the impact," said Duckworth. "We all stand together."
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