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Matters of Fact - Tennessee
February 2005


  • Nearly 125 thousand of Tennessee’s over 5.5 million residents have a severe mental illness. In the year 2000, the estimated number of people age 18 or older with a serious mental disorder living in Tennessee (excluding homeless people or people in institutions) was over 85,000. (U.S. Census 2000; U.S. Center for Mental Health Services)
  • Corrections officers in Tennessee jails report that 19 percent of inmates suffer from mental illness, four or five times higher than rates of mental illness among the general population. (Corrections Compendium, September/October, 1994)
  • 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)
  • Tennessee’s one Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) program for frequent users of the criminal justice system reports a 37% reduction in arrests and 76% reduction in jail days for program participants. Started with a federal Byrne grant, the successful program was discontinued in 2004 due to lack of investment from TennCare.
  • Limiting the number of prescriptions covered under Medicaid (TennCare) per month or limiting the number of physician visits would have a harsh impact on people with mental illness who will thus require more costly care. (Miller, JE, Drug Benefit Trends, 2003)
  • Family education programs, such as NAMI Tennessee’s Journey of Hope, reduce patient relapses by more than 50% and are cited as one of the two non-medication approaches most likely to succeed. Currently 1% of families in Tennessee participate in Journey of Hope. (PORT report, National Institute of Mental Health, 1995; TDMHDD 2004)
  • Sixty percent of emergency physicians report 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 lifesa?ving 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)


  • Forcing people with mental illnesses to switch to cheaper medications cost the state of California $6,000 to $8,000 additional dollars per patient due to increased hospitalizations. (California)
  • Restricting access to medications through drug formularies increased Louisiana’s Medicaid cost by 4.1 percent (Louisiana)
  • As a result of every dollar saved by reducing the budget on medication for patients in Medicaid with schizophrenia in New Hampshire, $17 was spend on emergency services to those patients as a consequence. (New Hampshire)
  • Formed in 2003, the Missouri Mental Health Medicaid Pharmacy Partnership (MHMPP) analyzes pharmacy claims data on a monthly trend basis for better behavioral pharmacy management. Missouri reports an estimated savings of nearly $9 million in the first year of the program. (Missouri)

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