LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Tennessee ranks near the bottom in access to mental health care


To the Editor:

My heart is broken for families who have adult children (or adolescents) with mental illness.

The timely focus on the opioid crisis gives me hope that if our citizens and leadership understood the scope of our mental health situation, we would rally and begin to untie the knots in our system.

Currently, 43.2% of adults with mental illness receive NO treatment and our state of Tennessee ranks 41st out of 50 states for access to mental health treatment. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. We can do better!

The overwhelming reason for lack of treatment is medical reimbursements for our mentally ill. Jails and prisons are struggling to cope with the increasing number of mental illness cases that they are not equipped to handle. Adults and adolescents get little benefit from those options. Most of our counties do not have a mental health court for diagnosis and treatment. Families who are affected are devastated by the lack of resources and options for caring for the mentally ill.

Won’t you join me in reaching out to our leaders and insurance companies to ask them to step up the care for those who would never choose a diagnosis that they must navigate without the proper resources to treat them? One great place to start is with the National Alliance on Mental Illness website (NAMI) or with your local representative.

Sue Gering

Brentwood 37027

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