Guest Editorial: The effects of untreated mental illness on the community

Guest Editorial: The effects of untreated mental illness on the community

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - By Lynn Beshear

Mental illness is a disease affecting 20% of Americans, yet 60% of those affected did not receive treatment last year. The cost of this disparity is elevated suicide rates, unemployment, and 193 billion dollars in lost productivity. Twenty-one percent of jail prisoners have a recent history of mental illness and more than a quarter of our homeless live with this disease.

Community-based care is the most effective and humane treatment. But, without proper planning, infrastructure, and funding, mental illness places heavy burdens on the entire community: from the afflicted individuals who often cannot work or live the lives they deserve, to their family and friends who struggle until the pressure becomes too much, to workplaces and schools that can be at risk when untreated mental illness deteriorates into a public safety issue.

That is why Envision 2020 champions the Healthy Minds Network which is dedicated to increasing access to quality mental healthcare. We are bringing Congressman Patrick Kennedy to Montgomery next Wednesday, March 30th. He will explain his plan to fix the mental healthcare system. To register for Mr. Kennedy's presentation, go to River Region Healthy Minds.

If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

Lynn Beshear is Executive Director of Envision 2020

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