Letter: Broken system for mental health


As I read the Sept. 16 letter from Cindy Wurgess regarding the suicide of her husband, it struck me as another heart-breaking tragedy, one of many unfortunate and unnecessary stories of how broken the mental health system is in Ohio, but also across the nation.

With several decades of experience in the mental health industry, that includes, but is not limited to opening, licensing, accrediting, and managing outpatient and inpatient mental health programs, my observation from the inside is of a system that fails individuals and families more often than one realizes. A sizable portion for the cause of such a broken system is the systems complexity that the consumer cannot understand, poor long term planning and inconsistent policies across the various levels of care, combined with the shortage of highly skilled staff at all levels, overworked staff, poor coordination of services, high turnover and the absence of a simple way to use system that the public understands. This causes confusion, frustration and a feeling on the part of those in need and their families that there is no one out there that will listen and provide an “understandable” and “correct” working solution for their needs. We hear and see ads for hot lines, special programs, combined organizational resources, but too many people are not receiving the comprehensive, coordinated quality care that they should be receiving. I have worked with many individuals and family members over the years trying to guide them through what at times, even with my background, appears to be a hopelessly broken model. But what about those that do not have an advocate? Where do they turn? For many of those that work in the current system and try hard to make it work, you know what I am talking about.

What do we do? For my part I have tried to work within this service delivery maze, but finally after years of seeing little structural improvement, developed a service delivery model that focuses on the concept of Whole Person Care with behavioral health specialists embedded on-site in primary care physician offices in conjunction with intensive care coordination. This type of model is spreading across the country with noticeable success. Intensive Care Coordination and the Clinical Integration of Services that creates a clear individualized care pathway, along with whole person coordinated care follow up can achieve better and sustainable clinical quality outcomes than what we have in place today and it has shown to be able to reduce the total cost of care allowing, economic and human resources to be used more efficiently. We can do better and we must!

Richard Maye, Elida

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