Mental Health Servicesfor Individuals with Severe Mental Illness.
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America is in a mental health crisis in treating individuals with Severe Mental Illness (SMI). The groundbreaking report on Mental Health released last year by the Surgeon General showed that individuals with the most complex mental health needs, and the fewest financial resources, often find a fragmented health care system. An estimated 15-18% of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder, and mental illness cost Americans $77.2 billion in lost income. Historically, persons that suffer with a disabling mental illness are often ignored and misunderstood in society; hence, for such individuals, treatment has been relegated to the periphery of public health policy. The goal of this study was to investigate innovative methods of interventions in treating SMI and develop a mechanism for legislative action to legitimize such models into public policy solutions. Specifically, I examined the Assertive Community Treatment and the Patient Outcomes Research Team Programs, which offer pragmatic approaches to mental health treatment that address the complexities of delivering mental health care. The research I did this summer includes various interviews and advisory board meetings in Washington D.C. at the National Institute of Mental Health, the Research Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Health Care Financing Administration. Additionally, it is hoped that this research will assist Congresswoman Kaptur in her efforts to pass legislation, H.R. 2364 The Mental Health Intensive Community Mental Health Act, introduced in Congress on June 28, 2001.