There are half a million homeless people with serious mental illnesses in desperate need of help yet underserved or ignored by our health and social-service systems. That number can seem overwhelming, but for me, it’s all about one person: my son Tim.
Early Saturday morning, I saw the op-ed that you both authored which ran in the Wall Street Journal.
It pretty much was all I could think of over the weekend. At first I was very, very angry. This was because it hurt me personally, as a family member, as a mental health advocate, and as a social worker.
Two weeks ago, Liberia was officially declared “Ebola free.” Liberia was ground zero of the Ebola epidemic, with confirmed cases in all 15 counties and almost 5,000 Ebola-related deaths. Chronic poverty and years of civil war had devastated the country’s health care system. At the height of the epidemic, containing the disease seemed almost impossible. But the last reported case was in March.
Whenever doing the right thing and doing the smart thing coincide, it increases the chances that something will happen. Elsewhere, we have presented data demonstrating that investments in prevention, especially in early childhood, have lifelong positive impact. They also save money. Econometric models by the Washington State Institute of Public Policy estimate that these prevention programs save many more dollars than they cost. They are smart public investments as well as the ‘right’ thing to do.
As Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health wrote in a recent blog, precision medicine is a hot new topic in the research world. The basic idea is simple: Get the “right treatment at the right time to the right person” by addressing the underlying cause of the disorder, not the symptoms. In practice, accomplishing this goal may be a bit more complicated.