Thresholds believes that it is vital to invest in a strong community behavioral health safety net, both to save lives and to save money.
Problem: Thousands of individuals living with a mental illness or substance use disorder cannot get necessary care due to repeated state cuts to services.
- The state’s failure to invest in an adequate behavioral health safety net costs the state millions every year in expensive and preventable hospitalizations, emergency room visits, institutionalizations, inappropriate incarcerations, and homelessness. Both the human cost and the public costs are extraordinary.
- Illinois received a “D” report card rating by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) due to significant inadequacies in its community-based safety net for people living with a mental illness or substance use disorder. The state’s lack of essential community behavioral health services has resulted in a number of lawsuits and consent decrees, mandating the state to invest in an adequate community behavioral health infrastructure. The state must follow through on this obligation.
- People with a severe mental illness die 25 years younger than the general population, not due to their mental illness, but due to undiagnosed medical conditions because of a lack of access to healthcare.
- Nearly one million adults, adolescents and children across Illinois struggle with mental illness, many of whom live in poverty. Many individuals living with a mental illness often have other chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol, due in part to the high association of these conditions with medications that treat mental illness.
- Over 23 million Americans, including more than 3 million Illinoisans, need treatment for a substance use disorder yet 90% of them go without any treatment. In 2011, there were 5.1 million emergency room visits nationwide, fully 49% of which were attributed to drug misuse or abuse.
Solution: Access to care enables wellness and recovery, and saves money.
- Community-based care is the most cost-effective approach to recovery for individuals with a mental illness or substance use disorder.
- Community-based care combined with stable housing works: Between 70% and 90% of individuals living with a mental illness or substance use disorder see a reduction in symptoms, better health, and an improved quality of life with the appropriate community treatment. Recovery leads to wellness, lower health care costs, independent living, and employment.
- Illinois must follow through on its commitment to rebalance the behavioral health system to reduce preventable hospitalizations and institutionalizations.
- Successful and sustainable community-based care will only be achieved through comprehensive and collaborative approaches that break down the divisions that exist between funding, regulatory agencies, and public and private providers across the full continuum of care.