“Pennsylvania prison system develops separate housing for mentally ill inmates”

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This January 6, 2015 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article talks about changes being made in how inmates in Pennsylvania’s correctional system are being managed.  Efforts are being made to divert them to treatment settings within the prison system as opposed to placing them into segregated housing (aka “The Hole”).

English: Lansing Correctional Facility

English: Lansing Correctional Facility (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Parity for mental health care is still lagging, study says”

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This January 11, 2015 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article talks about the ways that mental health parity is still lagging behind physical health care in terms of access to and the availability of services.  Some of the factors the study uncovered include but were not limited to…. people with mental disorders tend to be at a high risk for being uninsured, and the fact that there is a shortage of mental health professionals (the article indicates there is roughly 1 professional for every 790 people with mental disorders.

One thought I had as I read this particular article was to wonder if there was a connection between the lack of health insurance in the mental health community, and other data that shows a person with a serious mental illness is likely to die 25 years earlier then someone without a mental illness.  Or how about the fact that the majority of the people currently smoking either have a mental illness or are mental health professionals and that the number of smokers in this population isn’t decreasing at the same rate as the decrease in the number of smokers who do not have a mental illness.  The overall health of people in the mental health community seems to be poorer than is seen in the overall population of non-mentally ill people.  I had often wondered what the reason behind these pieces of data were, but after reading this particular article I have to wonder if something as simple as getting people in the mental health community health insurance might be a way to begin to combat this imbalance in the comparison of the overall health of people with and without mental illnesses.  I know that insurance won’t solve every issue, but could it be a starting point?  I’m thinking that if people without mental disorders are more likely to be insured, then that would explain why they tend to be healthier. They would have better or at least more consistent access to health care evaluations, treatment and education then someone who is uninsured would have.

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)