Youssef Alhussain Critique of a journal article I just finished reading, in the September issue of the American Psychiatric Association journal, an interesting article related to my research topic. The theme or the subject of my research is mental illnesses and disorders in today's inmates. This journal article was titled ?Critical Priorities Confronting State Mental Health Agencies,? by Mazade and Glover. It could be basically summarized as what the state mental health agency (SMHA) directors developed and the list of priorities for 2007. Those directors collectively supervise and manage a $28 billion budget. In addition to this, the state mental health agencies serve nearly six million Americans who have a serious mental illness. These priorities that were developed by the directors in 2007 include integrating health and mental health care, enhancing consumer empowerment, addressing mental health workforce crises and ensuring financial stewardship. Integrated health and mental health care: Persons served by SMHAs demonstrate a high frequency or commonness of multiple and complex conditions, including obesity, diabetes, substance abuse, coronary heart disease, and smoking-related illnesses? An example that was mentioned in this article would be that 44% of all cigarettes are smoked by persons with mental illness. Addressing workforce crises: These are defined as all the issues related to the supply, training, and recruitment of the mental health workforce. These numbers are very low and are of deep concern. A number of challenges comes face to SMHAs and educational institutions that train mental health professionals. For example, there is an increase in the number of seasoned clinicians entering the public sector. On the other hand, there is a small shortage of psychiatrists in general and a threatening shortage of psychiatric nurses. There is also a lack of trained staff to treat co-occurring disorders especially with sexually violent predators and inmates in general, which I believe in need of help the most. Enhancing consumer empowerment: To ensure the importance of SMHA, consumers will have increasingly meaningful roles in the design, delivery, and evaluation of peer-support programs within SMHAs. The new policies will also focus on increasing consumer involvement on the advisory boards of SMHA and provider agencies. At the point of service, consumers will have a major role in their care by facilitating their own personal recovery plan, articulating their needs and finally prescribing the role that mental health professionals should have in their lives. To begin with, I find it myself remarkably shocking that the state mental health directors around the country do not consider the huge number of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system to be a ?priority.? There are around less than half a million individuals diagnosed with psychological disorders that are incarcerated in the United States. Another mind-grabbing fact would be that about double that number are on parole or probation. I would definitely think that this must be at least one of the priorities listed or talked about by the directors of the state mental health agencies. Each of the priorities listed by the authors doesn?t apply to the clientele who find themselves in the criminal justice system. They have a high rate of medical and psychological addictive diseases. They are also perhaps the least empowered of any person with mental illness one can imagine. There are all too few psychiatrists willing to serve this population, and in addition to that, state legislators and administrators are unwilling to spend what the illness burden of this population demands. Apart from all of that, it is simply morally wrong to think about the priorities of state mental health systems without considering this lost population.
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