The Worst Rankings in the Country

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by Meg McDonald, Executive Director, ADD Resources –

For Five States A Black Mark in Mental Health Services – 

Black Mark525px-Black_x.svgWith Washington ranking 48, the other states that had the greatest need for mental health services and the poorest access to these services were Louisiana (47), Nevada (49), Mississippi (50) and Arizona (51). The overall rankings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia go from best (1) to worst (51). The five states that had the best rankings were:  Massachusetts (1), Vermont (2), Maine (3), North Dakota (4) and Delaware (5). These findings are presented in Parity or Disparity: The State of Mental Health in America 2015, a report compiled and issued by Mental Health America (MHA).

Why Is It So Important to Understand What’s Happening with Access?  

1198062_92941421Early rather than crisis intervention makes all the difference. Without early intervention, mental health problems become so far advanced that even with the best treatments available, the outcome is often compromised. Having enough mental health care providers is a critical component of access and early intervention. In Washington, it’s clear for the many who have searched, that lack of specialty physicians and psychiatric nurse practitioners are preventing access to ADHD diagnosis and treatment services. Among the many other factors that affect access is improving how clearly health insures explain their coverage of mental health services.

Why Are General Statistics on Mental Health Important to Us?

Screen shot 2015-04-01 at 3.19.09 PMADHD-specific information from recent, large mental health studies isn’t easy to find or tease out. General statistics give us some idea of the state of ADHD services and are helpful. All research needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Who funds the research, how the information is gathered, and the quality and sources of the data are all important considerations before running off to cry, “The sky is falling!”

Here is a sampling of some of the other rankings for Washington.

Rank     Item Being Ranked

ACCESS RANKINGS – Higher rank means less access

50            Adults with Any Mental Illness Reporting Unmet Need (26%) (p.29*)

43            Children Who Needed but Did Not Get Mental Health Services (46%) (p.33*)

42            Students Identified with Serious Emotional Disturbance for IEP (p.34*)

NEED RANKINGS – Higher rank means greater need

47            Adults with Any Mental Illness (21%) (p.16*)

44            Adults with Serious Thoughts of Suicide (4%) (p.18*)

50            Youth with At Least one Major Depressive Episode (11%) (p.23*)

Should Findings from Studies Funded by Pharmaceutical Companies Be Ignored?

The principal funders of the work in the Parity or Disparity report are large pharmaceutical companies which include Lilly, Genentech, Otsuka, Sunovion, Takeda and Lundbeck. Should we assume without careful analysis that the findings are tainted because of the funding source?  Or should we encourage our universities, associations and government agencies to drill into the research in the Parity or Disparity report to confirm the accuracy of the findings? The dramatic and surprising findings for Washington, in particular, can’t be ignored. We need to push for action now to understand what’s happening and why.

About the Author

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Meg McDonald is the executive director of ADD Resources. She has written or co-authored articles for a book and journals on topics such as hospices, physician extenders and medical algorithms as well as an annotated bibliography on epidemiology of breast cancer.  Meg was diagnosed and properly medicated for ADHD only in the last few years. She holds certificates in Nonprofit Management and Fundraising Management from the University of Washington and received her BA cum laude from Syracuse University.

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*Refers to page number of the data in Parity or Disparity: The State of Mental Health in America 2015

 Note: Another resource for statistics is NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) with information on the prevalence, treatment and costs of mental disorders for the population of the US as well as information about possible consequences of mental illnesses such as suicide and disability

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