Treating Severe Mental Illness: The U.S. Lags Behind

A note about the recent NY Times reported story about how Medications and Talk Therapy result in the best outcomes for people who have schizophrenia - from the former Head of the DSM Task force (the prescription “bible” for psychiatry:


The writer, professor emeritus and former chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke, was chairman of the D.S.M.-IV Task Force.

“New Approach May Alleviate Schizophrenia” (front page, Oct. 20) describes a large new study reporting on the optimal treatment for first break psychosis. The winner is a combination of medication, education, skills training and psychotherapy. This is not at all surprising: This package already informs best practice in most other developed countries.

What is surprising is that the United States lags so far behind these other countries in providing accessible treatment and decent housing. We have closed 600,000 psychiatry beds in the last 50 years but did not, as planned, invest the savings in community services.

A result: Hundreds of thousands of our mentally ill are either homeless or are imprisoned for nuisance crimes that were easily avoidable if they had not been neglected.

For people with severe mental illness, there has never been a time and a place worse than now in the United States. Let’s hope that this study finally wakes up our sleepy collective conscience.

It really is ■■■■■■■ ridiculous. This is something I hope changes soon. SzAdmin have you heard about the new mental health reform bill that NAMI is lobbying for? Is it a good bill? I read it over a bit, but was not to impressed.

Have not heard of it - please post a link if you can.

To be honest they are long bills I did not read them all. They seem a bit over hyped by NAMI as mental health reform bills.

I couldn’t agree more.

Yeah, we know all of this already.

And nuttin we can do bout it either.

These are all really awesome facts though really, glad i can read it’s been very beneficial.

Legislation has been quite slow here in the U.S. for a while. Something about the level of control Congress & the Gov’t has had over this amount of people (330+ million) is simply staggering.

I had to research my own way through this hap-hazard system, and finally came out feeling confident after nearly 2.5 years. I’m hoping the medication approach lightens up a bit too, b/c that was virtually all my doctor(s) thought of as a way to help me combat SZ. Not what I needed, though.