Las Vegas Sun

December 15, 2017

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Report: State, local governments need to cooperate more to address ‘inadequate’ mental health care

A new report says funding is "woefully inadequate" for mental health in Nevada and more focus should be placed on prevention.

The 120-page report by Social Entrepreneurs Inc. said there should be more cooperation between the state and local governments to address the problems of the mentally ill.

"There are models of partnership between law enforcement, courts, the state and social serves all across the state that have worked to the benefit of the patient," one person told the authors of the report, which was released Tuesday.

"Without a fundamental financial investment in services and supports, at the community and state level, the system may improve but will never be able to meet the needs," the report says.

It recommends Nevada design an education and prevention program "to confront myths about behavioral health, explain the signs of mental illness and substance abuse, and inform the public how they can help persons at risk." Education of the public is needed so people can learn to identify and seek care for a person with a mental illness before his or her behavior results in criminal acts, according to the report's authors, Kelly Marschall and Lisa Watson.

The study also notes the need for specialized treatment facilities for youth with substance abuse disorders.

The report was commissioned before turmoil hit the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas, but it touched on an issue that has plagued the hospital, saying that housing, medication and minimum basic needs should be considered before a patient is released from a psychiatric hospital.

"No persons should be discharged to another level of care or from a facility without a safe, stable environment to go to with assistance in making the transition," the report said.

The company did not put a price tag on its recommendations. The state paid the company $63,000 from federal funds to prepare the study.

According to the Nevada Legislative Appropriations Report, state funds dedicated to mental health programs for this biennium total $240.7 million, a decrease of 9.6 percent from 2011-2013. But the legislative report said the decrease in general funds is due to the governor's recommendation to take care of some mentally ill patients through the Medicaid program, which gets a better match in federal money.

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