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Washington, D.C. — The National Alliances on Mental Illness (NAMI) today released a new report, Grading the States, assessing the nation's public mental health care system for adults and finding that the national average grade is a D.
Fourteen states improved their grades since NAMI's last report card three years ago. Twelve states fell backwards.
Oklahoma showed the greatest improvement in the nation, rising from a D to a B. South Carolina fell the farthest, from a B to a D. However, the report comes at a time when state budget cuts are threatening mental health care overall.
"Mental health care in America is in crisis," said NAMI executive director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "Even states that have worked hard to build life-saving, recovery-oriented systems of care stand to see their progress wiped out."
"Ironically, state budget cuts occur during a time of economic crisis when mental heath services are needed even more urgently than before. It is a vicious cycle that can lead to ruin. States need to move forward, not retreat."
This is the second report NAMI has published to measure progress in transforming what a presidential commission on mental health called "a system in shambles."
NAMI's grades for 2009 include six Bs, 18 Cs, 21 Ds and six Fs, based on 65 specific criteria such as access to medicine, housing, family education, and support for National Guard members.
"Too many people living with mental illness end up hospitalized, on the street, in jail or dead," Fitzpatrick said. "We need governors and legislators willing to make investments in change."
In 2006, the national average was D. Three years later, it has not budged.
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.