Sunday, January 22, 2012

SAMHSA Ignores 500,000 Seriously Mentally Ill

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency's most recent and widely-quoted report on the prevalence of 'any' mental illness and 'serious' mental illness in America failed to count the 300,000 individuals with serious mental illness in jails and prisons, the 200,00 who are homeless and the 51,000 mentally ill who are in hospitals. Excluding these individuals led SAMHSA to understate the incidence of serious mental illness and overstate the percentage who receive treatment.

The new report acknowledges in the introduction and methodology sections that they ignored the incarcerated, institutionalized and homeless, but did not do so in their press release which is what most media apparently worked off of. Excluding these populations led to understating the number with serious mental illness, and since the chances of homeless or incarcerated receiving good treatment is next to nil, also understating the percentage who receive treatment.

SAMHSA has come under increasing criticism for their failure to focus on serious mental illness. A recent article by leading researcher Dr. E. Fuller Torrey in National Review, is but the latest example. I have written on SAMHSA waste of taxpayer dollars for DC Insider, a whistleblower group and Washington Times. Those articles highlight the mission-creep, waste, and counterproductivities at SAMHSA and suggest eliminating it would save money for taxpayers and improve care for people with serious mental illness. Worthwhile programs within SAMHSA (and they do exist) could be transferred to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other organizations that are much more effective, efficient, and focused than SAMHSA.


  1. Mental Illness is a chronic progressive neurological disorder affecting the structure, function and chemistry of the brain. Verbal assessment leads to thousands of deaths per year.

    Mental Health Assessment and Mental Health Plans ignore the neurological base of Mental Illness and rely on “Social Causation” i.e. Upbringing, Child Abuse, Dogma theories from Psychiatry, Psychology, Social Work, Sociology , Criminology and the Law.

    3,000 years ago the Greeks talked about Murder, Criminal Behaviour, Suicide running in families and being related to brain function.

    All “Modern Research” into neurotransmitters, neuroimaging such as Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging over the last 50 years has merely confirmed what the Greeks said.

    The Mental Health Plans are 3,000 years out of date.

    Fanita Clark
    White Wreath Association
    Action Against Suicide

  2. Anosognosia in a political sense would indicate that even though 12 million seriously mentally ill people are only 5-6% of the US adult population and 60.2% of them get treatment, and that mostly 'untreated seriously mentally ill people with a history of violence' commit violent crimes, which reduces the numbers even more to extremely small, that even with these adjusted figures, it is obviously not the kind of treatment you think would require the necessity of SAMHSA to fund those opposed to AOT because it would take insight. Insight to realize that first of all, even those figures are exaggerated, upwards, because of a lack of insurance coverage for neuro-imaging leading to hasty false diagnostics, (not to mention drug-industry influence peddling, facts that you and Torrey are well aware of), leading to many more moderate or episodic mentally ill people(another truth known to you and Torrey) stuck in residential treatment centers, rehab programs, with probation ankle bracelets, foster care and custody courtrooms, court-ordered counseling and meetings, asylums, prisons, shelters and the streets and on strong medication, lifetime disability and entitlement programs, even on an outpatient basis with the fallacious idea that they would more likely perform violent acts if left alone to fend for themselves; 10% of severely mentally ill men and 10% of the homicides in the US, which means 90% of perpetrators aren't severely mentally ill(you don't provide any statistics for people who stay on their 'treatment'). Your statistics betray your disingenuous motives to inflict involuntary outpatient unspecified 'treatment'(likely medication) on ANYONE who EVER had been diagnosed seriously mentally ill, criminal record or not, even if its actually a temporary or inaccurate diagnosis but you don't want to call it that, often a lie justifying coercion by the police, judges, lawyers and co-opted groups(NAMI warned of this but gets half their funding from drug companies, TAC is militantly for AOT) you support.

    Not a libertarian or Scientologist

  3. Anonymous: Thanks for your comment. Your point that it is a very small population that would potentially be in AOT is 100% correct. The criteria are extremely limited. That is why claims that AOT proponents want AOT used on "on ANYONE who EVER had been diagnosed seriously mentally ill" is false.

  4. Extremely limited I sure hope. In the age of the NDAA, homeland security, TSA and the Patriot Act. Of course involuntary inpatient commitment is standard in all states and many don't require even a mention of potential violence for someone to be committed. Yet AOT to be used "for those with a history of violence dangerousness or multiple re-hospitalizations due to noncompliance" and "people found not guilty by reason of insanity and unfit to stand trial". Why preserve state psychiatric hospitals at all if 77% of the hospitalization rates are reduced and 55% of the suicide attempts? For all the others who don't fit this criteria? Why not advocate for complete elimination of incarceration for SMI with an 83% arrest rate reduction and 87% incarceration reduction instead of merely for more AOT, which would still be mandatory for those unfortunate enough to have that history and be 'non-compliant'(not wanting to take potentially harmful medication or ECT therefore winding up in hospitals repeatedly) and considered torture by some advocates? Yet, by your statistics, despite patient support, in 53% of the AOT cases it doesn't reduce physical harm to others, in 52% of them it doesn't reduce substance use(which inflates the level of violence), and in 57% it doesn't reduce property destruction. But with hospitals and prisons preserved, 74% of the homeless population reduced wouldn't have as many places to go except back to their overburdened families partly sponsoring this legislation apparently.