Susan Morisette’s hope for treatment for her son ended tragically because Washington state doesn’t pay much for mental-health funding. Once 49th in the nation, we are now 47th.
As a Seattle psychiatrist for 45 years, I’ve seen good programs die for lack of funding. One program making home visits to treatment-resistant patients succeeded in reducing hospitalizations by 90%. No homicides or suicides in seven years, and financial saving for the state. That program ended with a phrase I’ve heard repeatedly: “We can’t afford a Cadillac program.”
Good programs dissolved one after the other. Another treating mentally ill, homeless elders in a cul-de-sac community of eight houses was so successful that residents’ disabilities were no longer obvious. One man wondered whether his schizophrenia would be gone in 15 years.
Mental illness is a disorder of brain function. “Cadillac programs” can allow people with such disorders to live good lives, saving both lives and money. Gov. Jay Inslee faces an uphill battle addressing the problem and ending the boondoggle. Ultimately, it’s the people’s call.
Barry Grosskopf, M.D., Burton