Those suffering from mental illness including major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder are at risk of returning to the dark days of mental illness history.
Prior to the 1960's, patients with most major mental illnesses were confined in either a state hospital or other private sanatorium. Their lifetimes and quality of life were limited and they were considered burdens on society. Families did not discuss members who were hospitalized and the problems were buried.
But, in the late1960's and early 1970's. a new paradigm was introduced. Recovery was possible if the patient left the hospital and returned to the home and community, with support from mental health facilities across the country. Over the past 40 years the vast network of mental health centers has allowed for incredible changes in the outlook for the mentally ill. The treatment provided by these satellite centers provided psychiatric care, therapy, medications, and case management to support the patient as they resumed to life at work, relationships, and recovery. The funding for these services has been provided by Medicare and Medicaid, with shared costs between the states and the federal government. But funding is drying up for teachers, government staff, and for the mental health facilities. Health and human services are now becoming the first place to cut the budget. And, with less support the patients who are working and living in the communities are at risk. And the future is not looking very good.
The trend as I see it is that even if the economy improves, the federal government and state agencies will be reluctant to increase spending for mental health services. There is always a bridge to nowhere to be built...