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How Mental Health Budget Cuts Have Led to a Crisis in Louisiana


The Global Online Academy course Abnormal Psychology has shown me that there is unequal access to mental healthcare for residents of Louisiana.  My commitment to this project comes from acquiring a new sense of empathy towards people dealing with mental illness through learning about various mental health conditions and how they affect people’s lives.  The purpose of my catalyst conference is to raise awareness about the lack of funding for much needed mental health programs in my home state of Louisiana, and to help create change. If that statistic above does not show how our state needs all the mental health funding possible and then some, I do not know what does.  Our state healthcare system has been gradually broken under the strain of financial cuts and psychiatric hospital closures. Most of the issues that are now surfacing are due to the massive healthcare cuts made during Governor Bobby Jindal’s time in office. This problem is worth investing in because of a few glaring problems that our state now faces due to these cuts.   

  • Louisiana is ranked 45th in the nation for access to mental healthcare.  
  • Between 2012 and 2016 there was a 35% decrease in the number of beds at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals.
  • Mental health spending declined from $74 per Louisiana resident when Jindal took office to $56 per Louisiana resident; to put that number in perspective, the national per-capita spending was nearing $120 in 2013.  

Given what I have learned, I simply cannot sit on the sideline as people dealing with these issues are not given the care that all human beings deserve regardless of income, social status, and the circumstances into which they were born.

This is an important issue not just to people in Louisiana, but to people across the nation, as many other states are dealing with this issue.  If we do not have mental healthcare systems in place for everyone, we cannot truly say we are doing everything we can to promote good mental health.  All people who have mental health conditions should have easy access to ways to treat them; that is why this work matters. I am fighting for the people of Louisiana who cannot afford to see psychiatrists, therapists, or other primary care doctors whenever an issue comes up because they are lacking income to do so.  I plan to raise awareness for this issue by using this project to urge all who are interested to take up “arms” against this issue by submitting your thoughts to the Louisiana state government itself.

(Out-of-network refers to paying without the help of insurance)

Why This Problem Must Be Solved

Prevention treatment and having mental health care available for everyone is important for many reasons. The main one is that if we have prevention in place, the likelihood of mental illnesses progressing into dangerous territory will go down significantly. That would mean less time being ill and would lead to a higher productivity level because of the lack of having a mental illness. These prevention methods might sound like they are more expensive at first glance, but in the grand scheme of events they are far cheaper than the alternative. Paying a little extra up front can prevent people from having to scramble to find medical providers, sit on waiting lists, and then finally seeing someone after a long time. The longer you wait with mental illnesses, the more expensive it becomes to cure.

Children are the future of our society and there are only 1.1 child psychiatrists per 10,000 medicaid enrolled youths. That level of providers to the population is 4.1 times below the recommended level of 4.7 child psychiatrists per 10,000 medicaid enrolled youths The level of access to mental health care is markedly mismatched with the level of need for it.

Why Should You Care?

Only 10 of the 50 states in our nation offer a “broad mandate to cover mental health.”  Besides that, 28 states did not require individual market health insurance plans to cover or even offer mental health services.  The remaining 12 states have mandates that only cover either SMI (serious mental illness), BBMI (biologically based mental illness), or both.  No matter where you live or how fortunate you are you should see these numbers and be shocked with how little care there is to offer for people with mental health conditions. This problem affects everyone.

If you are interested in what your state’s mental health expenditures per capita is, visit this link:
https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/smha-expenditures-per-capita/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

How Can You Get Involved?

Change cannot happen unless we all rally behind an issue within our community and have our voices be heard. The change that we are all trying to see is that everyone has access to mental healthcare without having to jump through hoops and pay out of pocket costs. The best way to be heard is to send our message directly to the people who took away all of the funding for mental healthcare in Louisiana.

If you are interested in this issue after looking at my page, please fill out this form with your name, email, and add a few thoughts on why YOU think this issue should be addressed immediately.  This form will be sent directly to the Louisiana governor’s office, and if we all contribute to the cause, we might all witness change for the better in the mental health community. When completing the form, please enter parish of residence as my community, “Orleans” Parish.

http://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/form/home/4

Works Cited Page

https://docs.google.com/document/d/169KwNpj5kz2mmIeVPJXofyqc2InbHU4owVh53vQSyYA/edit?usp=sharing

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COMMENTS: 6
  1. April 25, 2019 by Juliana.Shank

    Such a cool project! I love how you focused it around your own community that you have a personal connection with. I did my project on a similar topic, it is titled Access to Care for Patients with Mental Health Issues. But, I looked at it from a bioethical lens instead of abnormal psychology. I might look more into some of the beneficial legislation in Louisiana and try to bring it back to Hawaii!

    • April 27, 2019 by Price

      Juliana that makes me very happy to hear, together we truly can inspire change in our country surrounding mental health budgeting and healthcare.

  2. April 28, 2019 by David Kern

    In spite of the pie charts, I’m exceedingly proud of your work.

    • April 28, 2019 by Price

      Thank you so much for looking at my project Dr. Kern!

  3. April 28, 2019 by Lizzie Nash

    William! I think you did an amazing job with this project! Visually, it is extremely appealing to look at, and content-wise you did an amazing job with your research! I think it’s so cool that you had a smaller focus for your project and hopefully that will better help you catalyze change in your own community! Overall I think you did an amazing job, and you can really tell you put a lot of hard work into this project!

  4. May 15, 2019 by Alyssa.Chang

    Hi William! Thank you for including infographics and graph, it is very helpful! It was really interesting to read your findings, and I am glad that you addressed this issue. Your presentation did a great job of inspiring others to help. Great work!

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