Behavioral Health Breakdown
Monday, June 20, 2011 | Erin Jordan
In the article running front page on the New York Times Friday morning, “A Schizophrenic, a Slain Worker, Troubling Questions,” the murder of a young social worker by a schizophrenic patient could have been avoided. He was let go too quickly from hospital care and both himself and the community suffered as a result. The mentally ill man was only able to receive the care he needed after committing a violent murder. But still, more beds are being cut and less mentally ill patients will receive the treatment they need, directly contributing to less efficient resources for handling mentally disease, and inevitably less cures and more problems as a result. Federal healthcare funds for behavioral health are scheduled to be cut yet again.
After reading articles on the breakdown of health information technology funding, I can’t help but be upset at the results. As a psychology student passionate about healthcare, it is hard to accept that some fields are given the tools to advance, while others, some of which need the money and advancement the most, are denied funding.
What makes the additional budget cuts even worse is the fact that many behavioral health providers are able to receive little to no funding from the government or outside sources in the first place. Because of this, they should not only get precedence over some more well-off providers, but should be considered for additional grants. Behavioral health advancement is highly important, as one in five people will directly experience some kind of mental disease within their lifetime. One in Five.. That means that out of a family of five, at least one will be affected personally by a disorder, not to mention the additional effects on friends and family. How then, can we deprive one of the leading causes of disease in the United States of resources to advance technology and communication?
Behavioral healthcare is growing and expanding exponentially as we discover new diseases and new ways to cope and counteract them every day. This field is pushing its limits and looking for innovative ways to find solutions to disease, yet is being held confined with no resources to continue and nowhere to turn. Most patients who face mental illness have a very high chance of some kind of recovery, some even to the point of self sufficiency. However, when these people cannot get the help they need, that is virtually impossible. Money is needed not only for treatment, but also for the implementation of EHRs.
The transition of health records to electronic health records is massive for all areas of healthcare and additionally so for behavioral sciences. This will not only allow doctors to find creative solutions based on other cases in the past that are able to encompass entire medical histories, but will also allow us the opportunity to additionally expand on previous research more than ever before, producing new options for treatment. Advancement in technology and communication will furthermore allow for discovering new trends in healthcare, which will be incomprehensively beneficial for behavioral health. In behavioral health finding a solution is especially difficult because for most mental diseases, we have little or no idea on what causes them. With funding and new technology, the possibilities for discovery are endless.
In addition to monetary issues, another criticism of expansion of behavioral healthcare into the world of electronic health records is the flaw of privacy standards. True, with any advancement in technology, no matter the field, there will be risks involved. But can we really sit back and worry about this so much that we keep with our old, inefficient systems when there are far better options out there, potentially lifesaving? EHRs would not only create a more efficient system that would above all allow for the transfer of records from place to place during a move, change of doctors, etc., but it would also allow for responders on emergency situations to see all the potential causes and help the patient more quickly. Additionally, these records could be blindly cross-analyzed to look for patterns in healthcare backgrounds to start alluding to causes of some behavioral diseases. That said why wouldn’t we work as hard as possible to bridge the gaps and allow resources to behavioral health providers? With possible solutions to behavioral health problems in the future because of this research, privacy issues would be largely eliminated as diseases could be prevented or treated much better. Moreover, because we have been able to address the risks early on, we are aware of the dangers and extreme precautions and risk management assessments will be made for the assurance of privacy of electronic health records.
I am not taking other diseases lightly, both my parents are cancer survivors, and I believe their treatment solutions were also made available through the resources for advancement in separate sectors of healthcare. However, behavioral diseases are some of the most detrimental diseases facing us today. And the scope goes from minor depression to Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia and many other disorders. Patients forget family members, have brain deterioration and can completely lose who they are, depending on the disease and the severity. I realize times are tough and all sectors of healthcare need advancement. However, I also believe we should give attention to one of the highest leading causes of disease, and even death (third leading cause of death among teens is suicide, often stemming from depression or other mental illness*). Behavioral healthcare deserves the resources to move forward and make additional improvements, just like everyone else. Currently, the small amount of funds it does receive only goes so far and do not even begin to cover the immense possibilities of solutions.
behavioral health, budget cut, Health information, Electronic Health Record, Personal Health Record, Psychological Funding, Healthcare Reform, Schizophrenia, Mental Disease, chronicallyill