Saturday, May 03, 2014

Why America Has Inadequate Mental Healthcare

America has a serious problem with untreated mental illness. Prior to 1981 the federal government maintained mental institutions throughout the country. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter authorized funding to continue those institutions and added research programs.

One month later Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan the federal funding of those mental institutions was discontinued. The mentally ill who were neither homicidal nor suicidal were eventually released from care. They were either cared for by relatives or became homeless and still are.

Under Ronald Reagan, who also ignored the aids epidemic and the need for aids treatment research, care for and the treatment of the mentally ill all but completely ceased under Reagan.

My Down Syndrome son was born in 1982. My son entered early intervention treatment when he was only 3 months old to encourage gross motor and mental development. That treatment is critically important. Ronald Reagan saw this as an opportunity to cut federal spending in order to fund his massive tax cuts. The programs were terminated. The teachers and therapists that had worked with Jon and his peers disappeared. Funding of the Department of Mental Rehabilitation has never fully recovered.

Inadequate mental health services is a contributing factor to the violence in America. Let us all thank Ronald Reagan for that inadequacy and so much more.

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