Access to mental health services is patchy across the nation. This is particularly the case in Arizona. A recent survey found Arizona is the second worst state in the nation for addressing mental health issues.
The information was revealed in a study from the nonprofit Mental Health America. Mental Health America analyzed the extent of mental illness in each state and the District of Columbia utilizing statistics on adults and youth with a diagnosed condition, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse issues.
The Phoenix New Times reported on how the group researched the ease of access to care by looking at the percentage of adults and young people with mental illness who reported not receiving treatment for their conditions, having unmet needs, and not being able to see a doctor due to the expense.
Only Oregon ranked lower than Arizona in terms of access to mental health care. The best access was found in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and South Dakota.
The New Times report noted some improvements in Arizona. Among experts in behavioral health, Arizona’s Medicaid program is seen as a model for the integration of mental health and substance abuse services. Arizona agreed to improve its services for people who don’t qualify for Medicaid and have severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia in 2014.
Michael Shafer, president of Mental Health America’s Arizona chapter, told the New Times Arizona’s main failing is in relation to those with less severe and more common conditions such as depression or anxiety.
He said Arizona lacks primary-care physicians who can screen for mental illness and refer patients to specialists before the disease has progressed much too far.
The neglect of people with low-level mental illnesses means they are not getting help. The conditions are becoming more serious before intervention and they may end up in the criminal justice system.
Writing in the Arizona Capitol Times, Scott Cummings, state president of Care1st Health Plan Arizona, warned the suicide rate in Arizona is 60 percent higher than the national average. He said there are many contributing factors like drugs, drugs or access to care.
Cummings called for the state to focus its efforts on integrating screening for mental illnesses into primary and specialty care visits to allow the early identification of those with signs and symptoms of physical and behavioral health conditions to be treated in a holistic way.
The deficiencies in Arizona’s mental health provisions mean many defendants are not getting their needs met before they reach the criminal justice system. An experienced Arizona attorney with a long track record of helping the mentally ill can assist you or a family member after your arrest. Please contact the Garcia Law Firm today for a consultation.