• July 14, 2024

Mental health costs local Governments 2023

According to a new National Association of Counties report, the scarcity of behavioral health experts is forcing courts and jails to offer mental health care, straining municipal budgets.

The broad picture: The judicial and public safety system was never equipped for the task, and while most state prison inmates disclose mental health issues, over 70% have not gotten treatment since being detained.

  • According to a National Judicial Task Force report last year on state courts’ mental health response, mentally ill Americans are 10 times more likely to be jailed than hospitalized.
  • A 2021 Journal of Psychiatric Practice research suggests a decline in psychiatric bed capacity.

By the numbers: As more people with mental health disorders enter the legal system, 80% of Thursday’s research respondents said counties are paying the most for treatment in courts and jails, followed by law enforcement and hospitals.

  • County authorities claimed that even with extra funds, they can’t keep personnel.
  • Nearly 90% of counties questioned predicted an increase in mental health needs in the preceding five years, with half reporting a “substantial increase” in the past year.

What’s happening: Barry County, Missouri authorities notified NACO that the county jail is the sole place for behavioral health care.

  • Johnson County, Iowa, lacks serious mental illness hospital beds.
  • Clinicians in Tulare County, California, are seeing more than 100 patients, which strains their ability to treat milder behavioral health concerns, which has preventative implications.
  • Alcohol and methamphetamine are increasing mental health care needs in Jefferson County, Nebraska, yet waiting lists are growing.

We’re watching: Last month, the Biden administration advised states to apply for a waiver to expand Medicaid coverage to jailed persons for drug use and mental health treatment.

  • California was the first state to adopt this NACO policy suggestion in January.
  • KFF reported 15 states with pending applications on April 20.

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